TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan – Indoor restaurants and open wedding venues are now on the way to New York City.
Both had been closed for weeks after the COVID-19 surge during the holiday season.
Their return could be a blueprint for how other aspects of life in the city could reopen, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday, but he also said the process will be very gradual because he believes the pandemic will last for years , not months.
At the beginning of his press conference to discuss the pandemic response, the governor pointed out that the COVID-19 rate in New York City is declining.
“We went from 7.1% in January,” he said. “We fell to 4.9%. All models assume that this number will continue to decrease.”
For this reason, said the governor, the city’s restaurants can “[resume] Indoor dining at 25% on Valentine’s Day. “
That is February 14th, two weeks from this Sunday.
The announcement was well received by Michael Chu, the manager of Ichiran Restaurant.
“I hope we can open up as soon as possible [for] Indoor dining, “said Chu.” I still think 25% is good. We are grateful that we can still be open because many restaurants in this block have closed permanently. “
However, the NYC Hospitality Alliance said in a statement that the reopening would not be helpful enough.
“Restaurants are heartbroken that they have to wait two weeks until Valentine’s Day to open with just 25% occupancy in the city,” the statement said. “While 50% occupancy is permitted in dining rooms in the rest of the state, where infection and hospitalization rates of COVID-19 are higher. Restaurants in town are now ready to open safely.”
The governor’s answer was characteristically simple.
“Look, 25% is better than zero and there we are. If that [infection rates] keep getting better, this number will increase. “
In the Belmont part of the Bronx, many restaurants around Arthur Avenue close before dinner.
Lori Coletta owns Tra Di Noi with her husband Marco.
“I don’t know how these restaurants stay open. I don’t know how to stay open, ”she said.
They were hoping for 50% capacity and an earlier harvest for indoor meals.
Besides, it’s not just restaurants that are on the way to reopening. Mayor Bill de Blasio said at his daily press conference on Friday that he is seeing public middle and high school students returning to the classroom in some ways this school year.
Then he continued: “Everyone wants to be back and we will be back at full speed in September.”
Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo also said that from March 15, wedding venues can reopen with up to 150 guests, or 50% capacity, provided guests are tested beforehand.
Along with vaccinations, Cuomo sees a potential blueprint for places like theaters and stadiums that are partially reopening amid a pandemic the governor said won’t end anytime soon.
“I don’t think we’re going to talk for six to nine months,” he said. “I believe this virus will go a long way and I believe it will mutate. This will be years, I think it’s not unimaginable [that] You will need different vaccines or booster vaccinations in the future. “