New York Daily News: ALBANY — Valentine’s Day just got a little sweeter for New York restaurants.
Gov Cuomo announced Friday that Empire State eateries can stay open an extra hour beginning Sunday as he moves back a statewide COVID curfew to 11pm.
The move comes as indoor dining returns to the city this weekend and days after a federal judge upheld the current 10 p.m. closing time, citing ongoing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Cuomo asserted the curfew can be pushed back by 60 minutes since state is seeing a continued decline in cases and hospitalizations.
“Our decisions are based on science and data and we adjust as the virus adjusts,” the governor said. “The infection rate and hospitalizations have continued to significantly decline.
“We will continue to follow the science and react accordingly,” he added.
The statewide seven-day average COVID positivity rate is 4.04%, the lowest since Nov. 30, Cuomo said, noting that the rate has fallen for 35 consecutive days.
There are currently 7,068 people hospitalized with the virus in New York, the lowest since Christmas Day.
Restaurant owners and industry groups have repeatedly called on Cuomo to relax the curfew in recent weeks, failing to convince the governor to allow them to stay open later last weekend for the Super Bowl.
About 90 upstate eateries won a brief reprieve as a state judge allowed them to stay open past 10 p.m. before the decision was overturned in the wake of the federal ruling.
Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, applauded the move.
“After a year of incredible economic hardships, every guest counts right now,” she said. “Loosening the curfew will allow operators to comfortably seat guests at 9 p.m., bringing in business that had previously been cut off.”
The governor has made a series of adjustments to coronavirus restrictions and announcements this week as the state’s numbers improve in the wake of the post-holiday season surge.
Large arenas can welcome back fans for sporting events and concerts with strict capacity limits and rapid testing protocols in place starting Feb. 23 and weddings up to 150 people can be held starting next month.