Cuomo finally reopens NYC indoor dining after being buried in lawsuits

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo finally reopened indoor dining in New York City on Valentine’s Day after months of campaigning from the industry and after being slammed with multiple lawsuits. 

Indoor dining will resume in the city on February 14 but only at a 25 percent capacity which restaurant owners say is still unfair when other parts of the state can have more diners. 

In December, Cuomo ended all indoor dining just as the holiday season approached and temperatures plummeted. 

He said it was because New York City is so densely populated and blamed the rT rate of Covid but gave no data for weeks on what the rT rate actually was.

He also allowed indoor dining to continue in other parts of the state where the virus was a much bigger problem. 

As a result, restaurants sued. Some banded together to file lawsuits while others were still preparing theirs when he made the reopening announcement on Friday. 

On Friday, the statewide test positivity rate was 4.65% – the lowest since December 11 – when he announced the closure. 

The infection numbers in New York City have for months been among the lowest in the state.  

On Thursday, the test positivity rate in Manhattan was just 2.6% In Staten Island, it was 5.2% and in Brooklyn, it was 4.3%. In the Bronx, it was 5.5% and in Queens, it as 5%. 

The seven day average that Cuomo gave on Friday is higher.  

By contrast, on Long Island, restaurants can operate at a higher capacity and it has been that way for months. It has the highest test positivity rate of anywhere in the state.

In Orange County and Rockland County, areas just outside New York with large Orthodox Jewish communities, it is 6.7% and 6.5%.

In Suffolk County, the Hamptons, it is 5.7%. 

Restaurant owners have repeatedly asked for an explanation and been ignored. 

Since December 14, diners in New York City have had to resort to sitting outside

Since December 14, diners in New York City have had to resort to sitting outside 

On Thursday, before his decision, Rocco Sacramento, the owner of Trattoria L’Incontro in Astoria, Queens, told The New York Post: ‘The restaurants are packed in Nassau and I feel like I’m going to f****** shoot myself! Are you f****** kidding me?!’ 

Last month, after Cuomo allowed every other restaurant in the state to reopen, the New York City Hospitality Alliance told ‘The continuation of the indoor dining ban in New York City is divorced from any of the data and criteria the State has articulated and must be ended now’. 

Cuomo decided on December 14 that New York City restaurants all had to cease indoor dining immediately. It forced hundreds of restaurants to lay off staff and many went out of business as a result. 

Others closed for the season, certain that it would not be worth their while to run during winter while the prospects of luring business were so low. 

Those who did persevere were forced to come up with expensive outdoor seating options which had heaters and sometimes blankets to keep diners warm. 

Even then, they were told to comply with difficult rules set by the State Liquor Authority. 

Many protested and demanded to know why Cuomo was holding the city ‘hostage’. 

Some claimed he was deliberately bankrupting the city to get a larger federal bailout from Washington DC. They likened his actions to extortion. 

Friday’s announcement comes after a brutal 24 hours for Cuomo and his administration during which they admitted undercounting the number of nursing home deaths by 43 percent. 

Their admission came hours after Attorney General Letitia Adams released a damning report saying the undercount might be as much as 50%. 

The true number is not 8,000 – as previously reported – but some 12,700. 

They defended it by saying they only ever counted people who died in nursing homes and that the 4,000 or so additional deaths were counted as hospital deaths. 

While the state’s total death toll remains the same, it means almost a third were from nursing home deaths. 

Cuomo has been widely panned for a March 25 directive that sent some 6,000 COVID-infected patients back into nursing homes to free up hospital beds. 

Now, Republicans are demanding that his office turn over all of their data nursing home deaths. 

Steve Scalise said on Thursday that Cuomo was guilty of an ‘outrageous cover-up. 

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