NEW YORK — New York City restaurants will be able to reopen for indoor dining at a quarter of capacity by Valentine’s Day, and big weddings can return statewide in March, if infection rates continue to drop, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.
The announcements are part of a gradual loosening of economic restrictions in New York state as a post-holiday bump in infections slows down. Statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped by 916 since Jan. 19 to 8,357.
Cuomo said the indoor dining ban at city restaurants that went into effect Dec. 14 is on track to be partially lifted on Feb. 14, a big day for dinner dates.
New York City is home to roughly 24,000 restaurants, and many owners have complained this winter that the ban was destroying their livelihoods. The head of an industry group said Friday that faster, more sweeping action was needed.
“Restaurants are broken hearted that they need to wait two weeks until Valentine’s Day to open at only 25% occupancy in the city, while permitting 50% occupancy in dining rooms around the rest of the state where infections and hospitalization rates from COVID-19 are higher,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a release.
Cuomo also said the 50-person limit on wedding receptions is set to be raised to 150 people on March 15, as long as the venue remains at 50% capacity or under. The celebrations must be approved by the local health department, and everybody who attends needs to take a COVID-19 test, according to the governor.
“Promise of marital bliss is returning,” Cuomo said.