The New York State Department of Health and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have made some revisions to guidance for certain businesses as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations keep increasing.
With hospitalizations up to 5,159, the highest since mid-May, and the positivity rate statewide rapidly climbing, Cuomo announced on Friday, Dec. 11 that some businesses will be rolled back to help curtail the spread of the virus.
As of Monday, Dec. 14, indoor dining in New York City will be closed, though outdoor dining and takeout will still be permitted.
Cuomo also said that health officials are evaluating indoor dining outside New York City and in COVID-19 orange zone “micro-clusters” and will do so over the weekend before making a determination on Monday.
Previously, restaurants in New York City were permitted to allow diners up to 25 percent capacity. Cuomo said that the state has "compensated" restaurant owners as best they could be "aggressively" expanding outdoor dining and takeout options.
"Yes, it's an economic hardship, but we have compensated in other ways, and this is a situation that has affected every business community, not just restaurants ... it's every business community and every family and we're doing all we can (to help)," he said.
"And then you have the particular situation in New York City," Cuomo added. "Which is one of the densest locations in the country with crowding, and you have an increase in the rate of transmission, which has always been one of the seminal factors in this whole conversation."
According to the Department of Health, restaurants and bars have been responsible for 1.43 percent of the spread of COVID-19 in September and November, behind only household gatherings (73.84 percent), healthcare workers (7.81 percent), higher education settings (2.02 percent), and school employees (1.50 percent).
Additionally, Cuomo announced that the state will be extending the commercial eviction moratorium to assist business owners who have been hit hard by the pandemic.
During his COVID-19 briefing on Friday, Cuomo also announced new guidance for gyms and salons, which were both responsible for less than 0.15 percent of the new spread of COVID-19.
Moving forward, gyms and salons will remain open, though the state is increasing testing and regulations. Gyms and salons can now operate up to 25 percent capacity, down from 33 percent, and testing will go from bi-weekly to weekly.
Cuomo also laid out new metrics for the state’s COVID-19 hotspot micro-clusters and hospitals.
Micro-cluster zones will now be designated when:
- Yellow: 3 percent positivity rate over 10 days and the cluster is in top 10 percent for hospital admissions per capita;
- Orange: 4 percent positivity over 10 days or hospital capacity is projected to hit 85 percent within three weeks;
- Red: Hospital that will hit 90 percent capacity within three weeks.
All hospitals must stay below 85 percent capacity by either adding additional beds or reducing elective surgeries.
“If the facts change, we will adjust. We’ve only been at this nine or ten months, and we’ve got another six months to go,” Cuomo said. “We’re going to look into the data over the weekend and set a determination on (yellow, orange, red) zones.
“We’re going to look at indoor dining, and all the categories that we were seeing on the chart (pictured above). As the facts change, our opinions change, and our actions will change.”
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