NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City restaurants reopened for indoor dining Wednesday for the first time since March.

As CBS2’s John Dias reported, businesses and customers must follow strict coronavirus safety guidelines.

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Indoor Dining Guidelines

  • 25% capacity limit
  • Temperature checks at the door
  • One person of each party must give contact tracing information
  • Masks must be worn at all times when not seated at a table
  • No bar service
  • Tables must be six feet apart
  • Restaurants must close by midnight

In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, one of the neighborhoods to see an uptick in COVID-19 cases, customers said the safety protocols are especially critical.

“I just feel like maybe some things may be closing up again, and I just hope that’s not the case because it’s nice to get back to some sense of normalcy,” Isabella Garces said.

The city has said if the infection rate averages 3% for seven days, it will reassess indoor dining. After hitting 3.25% earlier this week, it was reported Wednesday to be just .94%.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday he’s keeping a close eye on the numbers. However, he added the nine zip codes that recently saw an upward trend should not stop the rest of the city from moving forward.


“See what’s happening in the whole city, which could be very different than what’s happening in those nine zip codes,” he said. “We’re going to watch carefully and report publicly, and if anything looks more problematic, we’ll talk to the state and we’ll decide together if adjustments have to be made.”

Last week, de Blasio extended outdoor dining year-round, making it permanent.

As CBS2’s Christina Fan reported, excitement was heard in the voices of the wait staff at Bus Stop Cafe, as the diner’s first indoor dining customer walked through the door.

“Well, it’s kind of cool today, so I figured I’d sit in here,” patron Steven Narinace of the West Village said.

At 25% capacity, owner Georgia Danalis is only allowed to seat about nine people.

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But it’s a start.

She said as the weather has turned colder, fewer and fewer people are willing to eat outside.

“I’m very excited and very happy. I’m looking forward to 100% capacity,” Danalis said.

At Benjamin Steakhouse in Midtown, where limited sidewalk space prohibited any outdoor dining, Wednesday marked the first day of work for many since March.

Before the pandemic, the restaurant seated 300 to 400 people a night. Owner Benjamin Prelvukai said he is hoping to hit at least 50 by Wednesday night, for the sake of his staff.

“People have families. People have kids. People have bills to pay. So, we tried to bring as many people back,” Prelvukaj said.

The owner said he’ll do everything he has to do in order to stay open.

“As you can see, we have tables spread out here and upstairs, so people make sure they have enough distance. All the staff has to wear masks,” Prelvukaj said.

Dennis Sprung was the first customer when Benjamin Steakhouse opened 14 years ago. He was the first one back for the reopening.

“The steak is the finest and the people are the kindest. There’s no place else to be and it’s New York,” Sprung said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the guidelines will be reassessed by Nov. 1. If the infection rate does not increase by then, restaurants may be permitted to go to 50% capacity.

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