COVID-19 in New York State
New York has lifted its zone-based COVID-19 restrictions in most areas outside New York City, and will have a plan for reopening restaurants in the five boroughs by the end of the week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters Wednesday.
That means certain restrictions on mass gatherings, houses of worship, non-essential businesses, restaurants, and schools will no longer apply in several areas of the state.
Five zones will remain, Cuomo said, in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and the city of Newburgh.
“On the facts today, as presented, I believe these measures are justified because these measures were taken because of the surge that was coming,” Cuomo said.
Residential gatherings will still be capped at 10 people, and certain restrictions on restaurants, like a capacity limit and 10 p.m. curfew, will also remain in effect statewide. Non-residential gatherings are capped at 50 people.
There were previously zone-based restrictions in several areas of the state, including the Buffalo and Rochester areas, where positivity and hospitalization rates have surged in recent weeks. Those numbers are now trending downward, Cuomo said.
There’s still the possibility that those restrictions will be reinstated if there’s a new surge of the virus, Cuomo said. Nearly 50 cases of a new variant of COVID-19, considered to be more transmissible, have been identified in New York.
“The variant may wind up being a problem,” Cuomo said.
Restaurants in New York City, meanwhile, could be getting a reprieve from the state, though details won’t be known until the end of the week at the earliest. Indoor dining has been banned in New York City for more than a month now.
Cuomo said he’ll be speaking with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, industry leaders, and other stakeholders about a plan to reopen restaurants in the five boroughs, and will announce a plan later this week.
“I also want to get our revenues back up, and opening up restaurants and opening up business generates more revenue, which means we’re less dependent on federal aid,” Cuomo said.
The question, Cuomo said, is how the state could allow restaurants in New York City to reopen indoor dining at 25% capacity. That was allowed in the fall before the latest surge of the virus accelerated.
The statewide positivity rate, as of Tuesday, was 5.44%, and hospitalizations had declined to 8,771.
State Sen. George Borrello, R-Chautauqua, said Democrats in the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo haven’t done enough to provide relief to restaurants during the pandemic.