New York will allow outdoor dining for restaurants in regions that are currently in the second phase of the economic reopening, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said.
The development comes as hospitalizations from the coronavirus pandemic are at their lowest level since March. Less than 50 people have died in the last 24 hours from the virus.
Outdoor dining will be allowed in phase 2 regions -- Western New York, the Finger Lakes, the Southern Tier, North Country, central New York, the Mohawk Valley and Capital Region -- starting on Thursday.
The Albany area entered phase 2 today.
There will be requirements for social distancing and other health guidelines, including having staff wear masks and have tables spaced six feet apart.
"COVID-19 is still a real threat and we're still battling it. I know it's not on the front pages today, but it is still in people and in society," Cuomo said. "But thanks to the people of New York and the nurses, doctors and essential workers, today we have the lowest number of hospitalizations ever and we have the lowest death toll ever. We are continuously evaluating activities that can be safely reopened, and today we are adding outdoor seating at restaurants to phase two."
The pandemic has killed more than 20,000 New Yorkers since March and created a subsequent economic crisis that spiked the unemployment rate to 14.5 percent.
The restaurant industry, in particular, has been hard hit by crisis. Restaurants were able to stay open for curbside pickup and delivery.