Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement on Wednesday in consultation with Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, where restaurants will also go to 50% capacity on the same day. The two states are acting in concert because of the close link between the culinary scenes of Manhattan and the communities in New Jersey just over the Hudson River.
"In New York State, our decisions are based on science and data and we are encouraged by the continued decline in infection and hospitalization rates," Cuomo said in a statement. "If we keep the infections down and vaccinations up, we will continue to stay ahead in the footrace against this invisible enemy and reach the light at the end of the tunnel together."
Indoor dining in a limited capacity in New York City reopened on Feb. 12 after being shuttered for almost two months because of rising COVID-19 cases. The decision to expand indoor dining was made because "two COVID-19 incubation periods have passed without any significant rise in infection and hospitalization rates," the governor's office said.
Cuomo previously announced that New York's restaurants outside of New York City will expand to 75% capacity on March 19.
"These capacity increases are part of both state's continued efforts to jump start their post-COVID recovery and reinvigorate the economy," Cuomo's office said in a news release.
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The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the restaurant industry across the country. Hundreds if not thousands of eateries in New York City alone have permanently shuttered in the past year, according to estimates by industry groups.
NYC Hospitality Alliance had objected to the ban on indoor dining over the holidays. On Wednesday, the alliance said it welcomed the governor's announcement.
"While city restaurants may not increase occupancy to 75% like restaurants are safely doing throughout the rest of the state, it is still welcome news to the battered restaurant industry," NYC Hospitality Alliance said in a statement. "Cautiously and safely increasing indoor dining capacity at New York City restaurants to 50%, with an eye toward expanding in the future, more vaccinations, and dedicated restaurant relief on its way from the federal government gives our industry some optimism among all the doom and gloom of this past year."
In the past seven days, New York has reported 25,480 confirmed and probable new cases of COVID-19, 1,460 hospitalizations, and 321 deaths, according to the city's public data. These stats are trending down.