A Valentines Day Present For New Yorkers: Restaurants Can Re-Open At 25% Capacity.

FILE — In this Sept. 30, 2020 file photo, tables are spaced allowing for proper social distancing as customers lunch at Katz's Delicatessen, in New York. New York City restaurants will be able to reopen for indoor dining at one-quarter capacity by Valentine's Day and big weddings can return statewide in March if infection rates continue to drop, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday, Jan. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Valentines Day 2021 could be extra special for people in New York City, as it looks like that is the day that restaurants will be allowed to open again for limited capacity indoor dining.

There is a caveat to this however, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo said COVID-19 cases remain stable.

By opening up again on the 14th, it would’ve restaurants time to get staffing in place and order the supplies needed. Capacity will be limited to 25%.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio immediately found ways to throw cold water on the announcement, instead of striking a more encouraging tone for NYC residents who have had to endure so much the past nine months. Following Cuomo’s announcement, de Blasio chimed in saying it’s going to “take some work” to ensure restaurants are safe and ready for indoor dining. He didn’t supply any data, or any evidence that restaurants are inherently unsafe. “I think it’s great that our restaurants have come back, but we need tight protocols, regular inspections, to make sure people are safe,” de Blasio told CNBC.

While the news is encouraging, here’s the downside. 25% capacity might not be enough for restaurants to stay in business. Restaurants outside of the city are allowed to operate at 50% occupancy, and Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance is concerned about the haphazard way Cuomo and de Blasio make decisions.  He says the state standards “are being applied inequitably in the five boroughs without a transparent and data-driven system for further reopening the city’s restaurant economy.” 

“Look, 25% is better than zero, and that’s where we are now,” Cuomo said at a press briefing. “If the numbers continue to get better, that number will go up.”

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