Cuomo: NYC Indoor Dining Can Return Valentine's Day (25% Cap); Limited Weddings OK in March


New York City restaurants can reopen indoor dining at 25 percent capacity on Valentine's Day, one of the busiest dining days of the year, provided current downward trends in positivity and hospitalization rates continue, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.

He also announced that wedding receptions of up to 50 percent capacity or 150 people will be permitted in New York starting March 15, provided all guests are tested and local health officials approve. The state is developing an app that would list guests' names once they have been tested; rapid tests are the suggested means.

"So no pressure but just an idea: Get engaged on Valentine's Day when restaurants reopen, and March 15th you can have the wedding with 150 people," Cuomo said.

That reopening step for weddings was born out of the success the governor says the state saw by allowing fans to attend two Buffalo Bills home playoff games earlier this month with strict testing and contact tracing rules. He believes that rapid pre-testing will be the key to eventually reopening more venues, including Broadway and baseball stadiums, before vaccination reaches critical mass.

Both highly anticipated announcements come two days after Cuomo hinted of more reopening measures in the near future when he declared "the holiday surge is over" as he lifted most of the state's micro-cluster zone restrictions.

"As data on infection rates and hospitalizations continue to improve, we must begin taking steps to jumpstart our economic recovery as long as public health can be protected," he said Friday. "This is a great development, but we cannot become complacent now - we must all continue to do our part to keep beating back COVID so we can continue re-opening our economy and get back to normal."

All of these developments, Cuomo noted, could easily be rolled back if the facts change -- as in, if a more contagious strain becomes more prevalent and the numbers start to trend back the other way or hospital capacity becomes endangered. Restaurants in New York City know the tightrope all too well.


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