Cuomo moves up date for reopening indoor dining in New York City restaurants

FILE PHOTO: People eat at a taco restaurant outside in a covered enclosure amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., February 3, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, citing steady improvement in the state’s measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, on Monday moved up the date on which New York City restaurants may resume limited use of indoor dining rooms to Friday from Sunday.

Cuomo said restaurant owners, whose use of indoor dining rooms still would be limited to 25% of capacity, have been pressing to reopen before Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14, traditionally one of the industry’s busiest days.

“They’ve made the point that they would like to open a couple of days earlier to get ready for Valentine’s Day,” Cuomo said at a news briefing.

The thousands of New York City restaurants that have survived the pandemic-induced shutdowns since last March have done so by relying on takeout business and makeshift outdoor pavilions since mid-December when they were ordered to halt indoor dining.

The statewide rate at which residents tested positive for the coronavirus has steadily trended lower, dropping to 4.42% on Sunday from 7.94% on Jan. 4, as measured over a seven-day average, Cuomo said.

Reporting by Peter Szekely, Editing by Franklin Paul and Bernadette Baum