Gov. Andrew Cuomo signaled Friday that indoor dining in New York City might be permitted again before his previously-announced Valentine's Day target.
Cuomo's statement comes the same day his counterpart, Gov. Murphy, in New Jersey relaxed restrictions on indoor activities, allowing restaurants, casinos and other venues to increase capacity to 35 percent and stay open past 10 p.m.
While COVID-19 surged across the nation from Thanksgiving through New Year's, both positivity and hospitalization rates have been declining steadily over the past four weeks. Additionally, newly published research on the virus suggests restaurants are unlikely to be a major driver of transmission.
Cuomo reported that the statewide positivity rate Friday of 4.31 percent was its lowest since November 28.
Statewide COVID-related hospitalizations are below 8,000, their lowest level since January 1, a week after peaking above 9,200.
The governor says it's further evidence that the post-holiday virus surge has faded, though he expressed concern that gatherings for Super Bowl Sunday could lead to another surge.
"We cannot get cocky with COVID," he warned.
When asked if he would consider reopening indoor dining in NYC before Sunday, Feb. 14 — a school night — Cuomo indicated he was open to moving the reopening to Friday, Feb. 12, but his decision would depend on the story this weekend's data tells.
"We follow the data, we follow the facts — so let's talk on Monday," he said.
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