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Cuomo loosens capacity restrictions on restaurants 

Restaurants outside of New York City will be able to operate at 75 percent of their seating capacity starting March 19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced. Restaurants across the state have been operating at half-capacity.

Cuomo said the data has shown that restaurants can operate safely and in accordance with strict health protocols at 75 percent capacity. New York City restaurants will still be required to operate at no more than 35 percent of their capacity.

"Our fight in the war against COVID-19 continues, but we are encouraged by the decrease in infection and hospitalization rates and the rise in vaccinations," Cuomo said in a news release Sunday. "As we expand our vaccine distribution and celebrate the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we have never been closer to defeating this beast once and for all. It is critical that New Yorkers not succumb to COVID fatigue and remain vigilant.”

Cuomo said State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker added a caveat between now and March 19: if there is a change in the numbers, the state may have to adjust those restaurant capacities.

The governor said that under a new law recently passed by the state Legislature, lawmakers will have five days to review the changes and that his administration will discuss it with any members of the legislature or local governments who have issues. Cuomo noted the state legislature has the ability to cancel the order with 50 percent of the vote.

Randy Gorbman is the news director at WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.

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