NEW YORK - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo eliminated the handful of remaining "orange zones" in the state outside New York City that kept restaurants closed to indoor dining and said he will release a plan by the end of the week to allow restaurants in New York City to follow suit.
"I understand the situation on the restaurants in New York City and New York City obviously is in a different situation given the density, given crowding, and we're hyper-cautious in New York City," Cuomo said during a coronavirus briefing on Wednesday morning.
Eliminating the orange zones means restaurants can offer indoor dining at half capacity. The goal for restaurants in New York City will be to allow indoor dining at 25% capacity.
The orange zones had been in central and western New York, Staten Island, and Westchester County. Cuomo is launching several yellow zones, which require schools to launch testing programs, in certain New York City neighborhoods and a part of Orange County where hospitalizations and infections are increasing.
NYC Hospitality Alliance is "happy that Governor Cuomo heard the voice of New York City's decimated restaurant industry," Executive Director Andrew Rigie said in a statement.
"Highly regulated, limited occupancy indoor dining has been a minor factor for virus transmission," Rigie said, "and full shutdowns have exacerbated the current economic crisis, which has permanently shuttered thousands of restaurants and bars and put over 140,000 people out of work in our city."
An indoor dining ban has been in place in the city since mid-December when a surge of coronavirus cases developed in the city.
Outdoor dining and takeout operations were allowed to continue but restaurant owners said that wasn't enough to ensure their survival.
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While the plan will be released on Friday, it was unclear when restaurants would be allowed to reopen.
"This has been economically devastating," Cuomo said.
Cuomo said the new rules would not ease the 10 p.m. closing time that restaurants have been operating under during the pandemic.
With The Associated Press