New York State to allow indoor dining in coronavirus orange zones, but ban continues in NYC

 silive.com  01/14/2021 18:58:02   Paul Liotta | pliotta@siadvance.com

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.  All New York restaurants outside the five boroughs will again be allowed indoor patrons, the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.

The announcement followed a Wednesday decision from state Supreme Court Justice Henry J. Nowak that granted restaurants in the Buffalo area an injunction that lifted the states orange zone coronavirus (COVID-19) micro-cluster ban on indoor dining.

In a statement, Counsel to the Governor Kumiki Gibson said the office is reviewing the decision, and that to ensure uniformity and fairness, all restaurants operating in orange zones can now operate under rules governing yellow zones.

However, a different mechanism has restricted indoor dining in New York City since Dec. 14, according to a spokesman for Cuomos office.

Cuomo banned indoor dining in the five boroughs through an order issued Dec. 11. The governor established the micro-cluster restrictions in an earlier order.

Nowaks decision did not apply to other parts of the state. In that case, more than 90 restaurants argued that the ban was unfair, wasnt based on scientific evidence and cost them thousands and in some cases millions of dollars in lost revenues.

Mayor Bill de Blasios office did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication, but restaurants and officials around the state have made similar claims to what was argued in Eerie County.

On Thursday, Assemblyman Michael Reilly (R-South Shore) and City Councilman Joe Borelli (R-South Shore), who have been vocal critics of the governors approach to shutdowns, took issue with the continued indoor dining ban in New York City.

We are lower than orange zones everywhere else in the state that hes now reopening, Borelli said. This is the most arbitrary and capricious handling of rules that anyone can remember.

Among the states regions, New York City has the second-lowest positivity percentage on average over the past seven days at 5.83%, according to the latest state data. Mohawk Valley has the highest at 9.18%, and the Southern Tier has the lowest at 4.33%.

While Staten Islands indoor dining remains banned with the rest of the city, the borough also has a number of additional restrictions related to things like business activities and religious gatherings because of its orange zone and yellow zone micro-clusters.

Houses of worship in yellow zones have a 50% capacity cap while orange zone capacity is limited to 33% or 25 people, according to the latest information available from the state.

Previously, orange zone restrictions were more severe, but things like gyms and personal care services have since been able to open if they adhere to strict capacity and testing regimens.

As of Wednesday, no part of the state is under a red zone micro cluster restriction, which is the states most severe. The micro-cluster zones havent been updated since Dec. 14.

Reilly questioned the uniformity of Thursdays decision to allow indoor dining that didnt include the city, and continued his calls to rein in the governors executive power that the state legislature granted in the early days of the pandemic in March.

If were going to say uniformity, then uniformity means the entire state, he said. Lets get back to legislating and take away this ambiguity.

That extra executive powers granted to Cuomo dont expire until April.

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