New York bans indoor dining again when the Covid-19 infection rate rises

New York City restaurants must stop serving meals indoors on Monday because hospital stays at Covid-19 are not stabilizing and the virus’s infection rate is rising in the densely populated metropolis, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday.

The governor acknowledged that indoor dining accounts for only a fraction of the city’s new cases, but said he was concerned about an “Rt 1.3” transfer rate, which means an infected person is transferring it to 1.3 others.

“The Rt speed that goes up in a dense environment is really a complex problem,” Cuomo told a news agency. “New York City is different. A high transfer rate in a dense environment is different.”

Nearly three-quarters of the state’s coronavirus infections have come from private gatherings or “living room spread,” while only 1.4% of them can be traced to restaurants and bars, Cuomo said.

The move comes a little more than ten weeks after the city’s restaurants were allowed to resume indoor dinners, but only with 25% of capacity, for the first time since March.

Many added outdoor pavilions pending the move, which Cuomo warned would happen if hospital stays were not stabilized.

Although the state’s coronavirus positivity, which was just under 5% on Thursday, is among the lowest in the country, Covid-19 hospital stays have climbed to 5,321, raising concerns about stress on its healthcare system, Cuomo said.

Cuomo also said a government working group unanimously approved the decision of an advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to recommend approval of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine.

New York is one of a handful of states assembling panels to independently review federal government approval before the vaccine could be distributed locally.

The first shipment of 170,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine could reach the state as soon as Sunday, while another 346,000 doses of a vaccine manufactured by Moderna are expected this week on December 21, Cuomo said.