Gov. Cuomo to ease virus restrictions but won't allow NYC indoor dining ‘at this point’

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Denis Slattery, New York Daily News
·2 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York will lift some COVID-19 restrictions this week as a post-holiday spike in cases begins to wane — but the Big Apple’s ban on indoor dining will remain in place, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

The governor, visiting the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, announced that New York will “start making adjustments” to restrictions such as allowing elective surgeries in upstate Erie County as health experts project the state’s infection rate will continue to decline.

“I think we’re at a new place now, and we can start to adjust that valve, and start to open up more economic activity, and reduce some of the restrictions,” he said.

While places like Chicago have recently allowed restaurants to once again welcome diners, eateries in the five boroughs aren’t as lucky.

“The indoor dining in New York City is a New York City-specific condition and we’re not, at this point, contemplating any changes,” Cuomo said.

Earlier in the day, the New York State Restaurant Association called on Cuomo to loosen restrictions on restaurants as neighboring states like Massachusetts recently eliminated a curfew and eateries in Philadelphia reopened for indoor dining last weekend.

While pubs and restaurants in New York City are completely barred from serving customers inside, upstate spots are operating at 50% seating capacity and must shut down by 10 p.m.

“We all know about the dire financial crisis facing the restaurant industry. And we all agree that we need to reopen the economy or there will be nothing left to reopen,” said Melissa Fleischut, NYSRA president and CEO. “We’re urging the state to take some small steps in that direction.

“Any help will go a long way toward the long-term survival of so many of our favorite restaurants,” she added.

The group is asking the state to extend the existing 10 p.m. curfew 12 a.m., and to allow indoor dining to resume in the city.

The governor said the state is looking to tweak micro-cluster restrictions, many of which have not been updated or changed since mid-December.

But a decline in the state’s positivity rate, which dropped from nearly 8% a week ago to 5.47%, and a rate of transmission below 1.0 for the first time since the latest surge began are positive signs, Cuomo said.

“It’s been a bumpy ride to get here,” he said. “Not only are we on the way down, but the experts tell us that’s going to continue.

Still, as another 167 New Yorkers died from the virus on Sunday and the state is struggling to vaccinate residents due to a shortage in supply from the federal government, Cuomo urged caution.

“I know the numbers look good today, but we have been down this road before... and the road has curves, it has potholes, so please, just be smart,” he said.

———