New York City is finally catching up to the state — New York City restaurants and bars can expand to 75 percent of capacity beginning May 7.
Restaurants in other parts of the state were permitted to open up to 75 percent capacity on March 19. At that time, New York City restaurants, which previously were only allowed to operate at 25 capacity, were only allowed to open to 50 percent capacity.
The decision was widely hailed by members of the hospitality and greater business communities.
Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Randy Peers said, “Brooklyn’s restaurant industry has been severely impacted by COVID-19, and Governor [Andrew] Cuomo’s announcements to reduce business restrictions, modify curfew hours, and increase indoor dining occupancy will significantly help our vital small businesses and workers begin a path to recovery. We look forward to working with Governor Cuomo’s administration on getting New York City back to business.”
NYC Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Rigie, who represents the restaurant industry, said, “New York City’s hospitality industry has been decimated by the pandemic, and while there is still a long road to recovery, Governor Cuomo’s announcement earlier this week on easing restaurant and bar restrictions, along with today’s news that indoor dining occupancy will increase to 75 percent in the five boroughs, provides a shot of optimism to small business owners and workers who have been financially devastated over the past year.”
Under new rules passed by the state Legislature that took away some of Cuomo’s power as “COVID czar,” however, lawmakers had five days to review the governor’s decision since it was announced on Friday, and they can rescind it if they disagree.
This announcement builds on the other recent measures to further reopen the hospitality sector amid a steady decline in New York’s COVID-19 positivity and hospitalization rates. On April 28, Cuomo announced that the 12 a.m. food and beverage service curfew will be lifted for outdoor dining areas beginning May 17 and for indoor dining areas beginning May 31. The governor also announced that the 1 a.m. curfew for catered events where attendees have provided proof of vaccination status or a recent negative COVID-19 test result will be lifted beginning May 17, with the curfew for all catered events set to be lifted May 31.
Greater New York Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mark Jaffe said, “On behalf of the 30,000-plus business and civic leaders we work with, the Chamber wants to applaud the governor’s vaccination distribution and precautionary actions that will allow us to once again enjoy the vibrancy and culture that the restaurant industry provides to all who visit, work and live in New York.”