Indoor Dining to Return on Valentine’s Day

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday that indoor dining will return to NYC at a 25% capacity on Valentine’s Day, February 14, as long as COVID-19 positivity rates continue on their downward trajectory. He also mentioned that if positivity rates continue to decline, the indoor dining capacity could continue to increase.

Restaurants will be required to follow all the same safety guidelines which were previously in place. The 10pm curfew which was put in place in November 2020 will also remain, with Cuomo expressing concerns over late night crowding. The restaurant industry had tried to get that curfew pushed to midnight.


Indoor dining was suspended on December 14, with no clear sign of when it would return at the time. While the news of its return will come as a sigh of relief to restaurant owners and their patrons, a number of restaurateurs are concerned that a 25% indoor dining capacity will not be enough to keep them in business. In a January 28 write-up by the NY Post, some of these restaurant owners shared their frustrations over the issue, especially given the fact that restaurants in other parts of the state have been given the green light to fill 50% of their indoor seats.

The NYC Hospitality Alliance, a restaurant advocate group led by Andrew Rigie (who’s also Community Board 7’s First Vice Chair),  released the following statement:

“It’s good news that Governor Cuomo heard the voice of New York City’s struggling restaurant industry and is lifting the ban on indoor dining, similar to other major cities that reopened in recent weeks. However, 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. Restaurants in the city are ready to safely open now. Unfortunately, once again the state’s standards are being applied inequitably in the five boroughs without a transparent and data-driven system for further reopening the city’s restaurant economy. These actions raise legal and moral concerns and extend unique economic challenges on the city’s battered restaurants and bars, which shed more than 140,000 jobs over the past year due to the pandemic and related restrictions.”

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