New York City will be reopening indoor dining on Friday, two days earlier than Gov. Andrew Cuomo previously announced.
Dine-in services hadn’t been available in New York since the middle of December last year. “They have made the point that they’d like to open a couple of days earlier so they can be ready for Valentine’s Day, get the staff oriented, get supplies into the restaurants, and that’s a reasonable request,” Cuomo said of the restaurants at a press briefing. “So, we’ll start indoor dining on Friday at 25 percent.”
According to the New York Post, Cuomo has been getting bombarded by restaurant owners who are calling for the reopening of restaurants, saying they should be allowed 50 percent capacity. Restauranteurs are also pushing for the curfew to be extended from 10 p.m. to midnight.
“The Super Bowl was just ridiculous,” said Stephen Elkins, owner of the Forest Hills Station House in Queens, to The Post on Monday. “We have street seating, and we were not allowed to do that [because of the snow]. So we had a take-out business. We did a little bit of business — we sold wings and some hamburgers, and no one was really buying any alcohol. It was terrible.”
State Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Queens) chimed in, highlighting that employees have to be included in the conversation as well. “You can go upwards of 25 percent — you can probably go 50 or 75 percent. I’ve seen plenty of places do it safely,” he said. “What many people don’t realize is 25 percent includes staff,” he said. “Now you’re talking about only maybe 15 patrons in some small places.”
The move comes after 19 council members sent a letter to Cuomo last week asking that he allow some reopening. “The fact of the matter is 25% capacity for indoor dining is simply not enough for restaurants to survive, and we are facing a different reality than we were in September when outdoor dining was thriving,” the letter said. City Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens), who signed the letter, Monday called Cuomo’s 25 percent edict “another small step in the right direction,” The New York Post reports.
“But the science from our own New York state contact tracers tells us that we can handle 50 percent,” he told The Post. “We have some of the best restaurants in the world in New York City, and they are dying along with the dreams and life savings of many New Yorkers.”