Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday that indoor dining would be expanded to 75% capacity in New York City, bringing the city in line with the rest of the state, starting May 7th.
In addition, hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services will also expand to 75% capacity beginning May 7th. And NYC gyms and fitness centers will expand to 50% capacity beginning May 15th.
"There's no doubt that restaurants have been among the pandemic's hardest hit businesses, and New York City's thriving restaurant industry has found it challenging to keep staff and maintain profits," Cuomo said. "We're easing restrictions on restaurants, personal care services and gyms to put more money in the pockets of small business owners and working people in New York City, which was hit so hard by the pandemic but, I have no doubt, will come back stronger than ever."
Earlier this week, Cuomo announced that the midnight food and beverage curfew will be lifted for outdoor dining beginning May 17th and for indoor dining beginning May 31st. In addition, seating at bars will be allowed again in NYC starting May 3rd.
"New York City's hospitality industry has been decimated by the pandemic, and while there is still a long road to recovery, Governor Cuomo's announcement earlier this week on easing restaurant and bar restrictions, along with today's news that indoor dining occupancy will increase to 75% in the five boroughs provides a shot of optimism to small business owners and workers who have been financially devastated over the past year," said Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. "We look forward to working with Governor Cuomo's administration to safely reopen New York City, so we can get the restaurant capital of the world cooking again."
Rules around catered events are also being eased in the coming weeks. And the NY State Senate and Assembly repealed the Cuomo executive order that required restaurants and bars to serve food with alcohol. Starting in March 2020 right as the pandemic first overtook the city, licensed establishments could only sell adult beverages if the sale was "accompanied by the purchase of food."
You can read about more COVID-19 restrictions that are set to loosen in NY in the coming weeks here.
On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said his goal was for NYC to "fully reopen"—meaning there would be no capacity restrictions on indoor or outdoor activities—by July 1st.
In response to that, Cuomo said at a separate press conference, "There is no person who will safely reopen faster than myself. I'm not going to predict the future, but if you said to me July 1st, I hope to get there before July 1st."