Indoor dining in New York City will expand from 50% to 75% capacity on May 7, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.
The move puts the city's indoor dining rules in line with the rest of the state.
"After a long and incredibly difficult fight, New York State is winning the war against COVID-19, and that means it's time to loosen some restrictions put in place to protect the public health and help our local businesses," Cuomo said in a statement. "There's no doubt that restaurants have been among the pandemic's hardest hit businesses, and New York City's thriving restaurant industry has found it challenging to keep staff and maintain profits."
Salons and barber shops will also be permitted to expand to 75% capacity on that date.
Cuomo also announced gyms and fitness centers will expand to 50% capacity beginning May 15.
The loosening of restrictions comes as the city's COVID-19 infection rate declines and the number of vaccine doses administered climbs above 6.3 million.
Suzanne Riva, the owner of Follia, a restaurant in Gramercy, is ready to rearrange the dining room once again to make way for more customers.
"We're excited to bring that life back into the restaurant again. It's a great time for it with graduations and the end of the school year coming, and everyone is really excited for next year, hoping it's a little more normal,” she said.
At Taqueria Gramercy, general manager Jorge Aguirre said the increase in indoor dining won't actually help much, given the size of his restaurant and the fact that tables must stay socially distanced if they're not separated by partitions.
"It's not too much benefit because you have to be six feet apart, because it's hard to find all the room for those tables," he said. "But what will help is the bar."
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that he wants the city to fully reopen on July 1. He and Cuomo are now arguing over that date, with the governor saying it's not de Blasio's decision to make, while also indicating that he'd like for the city to reopen sooner.