New Yorkers like Angela Alverson are eager to dine indoors at restaurants again.
"I’m really tired of cooking and I’m tired of ordering in," said Alverson, who was enjoying a meal at local Queens restaurant the Bel Aire diner. "I appreciate supporting my local restaurants."
Alverson says pleased there’s a decrease in coronavirus cases and increase in vaccinations. She is waiting to get her second shot.
"I think it’s time to start gradually opening up," Alverson said. "I appreciate that people are still taking precautions where appropriate."
The staff at Bel Aire diner say they’ve been waiting to open up, too.
“Super excited, long overdue wait," said Chris Pappas, the manager at Bel Aire. "We’re all hands on deck and we’re ready to open up finally at a larger percentage.”
Since the return of indoor dining last month, restaurants in the city could only operate at 35% capacity.
"There are times where we have to have people wait outside or dine outside," Pappas said. "Some people wait, some people don’t wanna wait. But we have to follow the rules and restrictions.”
At Bel Aire, that means keeping diners apart — every other booth is staying empty — and keeping them safe by handing out masks and taking temperatures at the door.
"I was here when they opened up the first day, when they got a little more it was like a party in here, but they have everything really nice and really good," diner Patrick Casiere said. "Very safe, everybody should come out and eat, get out of your house, come eat!"
All of the COVID-19 safety protocols are still in effect, even with a higher capacity allowed.
The restaurant industry group, the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said, with federal aid and more vaccinations, it looks forward to restaurants opening up even more.