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Cuomo moves up date for indoor dining in NYC ahead of Valentine's Day

Cuomo moves up date for indoor dining in NYC ahead of Valentine's Day
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Indoor dining will resume in New York City on Friday, Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCNN insults #MeToo movement, provides happy ending for Jeffrey Toobin New York lawmakers pass bill allowing gender-neutral 'X' on state ID Republican NY state senator: Single-payer health care bill won't get a vote this week MORE (D) announced, two days ahead of the original target date, which will allow eateries to benefit from the full Valentine's Day weekend.

During a press briefing Monday, Cuomo said the post-holiday surge of COVID-19 cases is over. The rolling average of cases and hospitalizations have declined over the past week, compared with the past four weeks.

"We respond to the data, we respond to the facts that we face today. The facts may change tomorrow and then we will change with the facts," he said. "The enemy changes tactics, we adjust with the enemy. But the numbers are down now."

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Cuomo said restaurants asked to open "a couple of days earlier" so they can be ready for Valentine's Day, traditionally one of the busiest days in the restaurant industry. Effective on Friday, he said indoor dining will be allowed at 25 percent capacity. 

Last week, Cuomo initially said restaurant workers would not be eligible yet to receive a COVID-19 vaccine because of limited supply. He said calls to include them in one of the top priority groups were a “cheap, insincere discussion.” 

But 24 hours later, after intense pushback and criticism, Cuomo said the decision would be up to individual mayors and regional health departments.

Indoor dining has been banned in New York City for much of the pandemic. Cuomo first shut it down in March, before reopening at limited capacity in September. It was banned again in December amid rising cases after Thanksgiving. 

According to state data, the statewide seven-day positivity rate is 4.42 percent, the lowest its been since early December. The 7,716 people hospitalized is the lowest total since Dec. 28. 

New York is still seeing thousands of new cases a day, and health experts have warned about the dangers of relaxing restrictions about indoor gatherings, especially as new, more contagious variants are spreading throughout the country.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists indoor dining as one of the highest-risk activities in terms of spreading the virus.

Cuomo acknowledged the risks from new variants, but indicated he is pleased with the state's progress on vaccinations. 

"Overall, we are in a foot race with the COVID spread. We are watching for variants. We're watching for increased infection from variants. We're watching vaccine effectiveness ... but the foot race is clear. It's rate of vaccination versus rate of infection," he said.