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Return of Indoor Dining? Will Indoor Dining Resume at City Restaurants?

Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

After weeks of subsisting on their own cooking, takeout and frigid al fresco meals, New Yorkers may soon be able to eat inside restaurants.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the state was considering reopening indoor dining at New York City restaurants, which he barred last month as coronavirus indicators soared.

Mr. Cuomo said he’d have more specifics about possibly reopening by the end of the week.

Here’s what you need to know:

The rationale

Mr. Cuomo said that what he called the “holiday surge” — spikes in hospitalizations and positive coronavirus test results that appeared to be connected to holiday gatherings — was beginning to recede across the state, which meant that restrictions could be relaxed.

The policy changes

Since October, Mr. Cuomo has designated red, orange or yellow zones, with different restrictions placed on each, based on coronavirus metrics.

Yesterday Mr. Cuomo said that he would remove all remaining orange zone designations and many yellow zones, though yellow zones would still be in effect in parts of Queens, the Bronx, Washington Heights in Manhattan and the city of Newburgh in Orange County.

Mr. Cuomo said that officials would decide whether to allow New York City restaurants to open for indoor dining at 25 percent capacity by the end of the week. The state already allows indoor dining at 50 percent capacity for most restaurants outside the city.

The context

Hospitalizations and the positive test rate average may be trending downward, but positive test results remain elevated in many parts of the city and the state.

At the same time, the city’s restaurant industry, which has struggled since the start of the pandemic, is on the brink, and some owners have sued Mr. Cuomo and the state to reopen indoor dining.

Even if indoor dining resumed, Mr. Cuomo said, any policy changes would not necessarily be permanent.

“You make the decision on the facts today. But the facts may change.”

Mr. Cuomo said.

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