New York City resumes indoor dining as COVID-19 cases rise

Mandi Karpo, Staff Writer

In a press briefing on Feb. 8, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York City is re-opening indoor dining at 25 percent capacity on Feb. 12, two days earlier than originally scheduled.

Restaurant owners requested Cuomo choose an earlier date to allow staff appropriate time to prepare for one of the restaurant industry’s busiest days of the year.

Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, agreed with Cuomo’s decision to re-open indoor dining at this time.

“This will allow restaurants to generate much-needed revenue from the Valentine’s Day weekend business, much of which they would have lost because the holiday falls on a Sunday this year,” said Rigie.

University sophomore Alexi Mercado, double majoring in Hospitality and Tourism and Advertising and Marketing, said, “I think it’s not fair to blame restaurants for the rise of COVID-19 cases when people attend super spreader events anyway.”

University sophomore Johnathan Alimov says he will be dining inside for the hallmark holiday, but is skeptical about the relationship between indoor dining and rising COVID-19 cases.

Alimov said, “Yes, I am concerned about a potential spike after Valentine’s Day. However, I do not believe that indoor dining will be a contributing factor to a potential COVID spike.”

Despite some students’ cavalier approach towards the relationship between indoor dining and rising cases, University sophomore Emma Brown, studying Behavioral Neuroscience with a minor in Chemistry, has a different outlook.

“My biggest concern about indoor dining is the fact that once we do begin the process of re-opening the city, the exposure rates are going to increase. If exposure rates increase, more people are going to be susceptible to COVID-19, and the possibility of mutation becomes even more possible,” said Brown.

On Feb. 8, New York State tested 197,183 citizens, of which 8,448 tested positive, with a statewide positivity rate of 4.28 percent and a 4.42 percent seven-day average COVID-19 positivity rate.

In comparison, 153,648 citizens were tested on Feb.9, of which 7,866 tested positive, with a statewide positivity rate of 5.12 percent, and a 4.38 percent seven-day average of COVID-19 positivity rate, the lowest seven-day average positivity rate in New York State since Dec. 1, 2020. 

The Cuomo administration has taken New York State’s declining COVID-19 cases and decreased hospitalization rates as an indicator that it is ready to take a step towards New York City’s financial recovery by bringing back indoor dining.

While Cuomo’s announcement inspires hopes of modified normalcy for some amid pandemic protocols, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still lists indoor dining as a higher risk activity concerning the spread of COVID-19.