March 7, 2021
Albany, NY

Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Restaurants Outside New York City Can Move to 75 Percent Indoor Capacity Starting March 19

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Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Restaurants Outside New York City Can Move to 75 Percent Indoor Capacity Starting March 19
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New York City Restaurants Will Remain at 35 Percent Capacity 4,789 Patient Hospitalizations Statewide; Lowest Since December 6 999 Patients in the ICU; ICU Patients Fall Below 1,000 For First Time Since December 9 682 Intubated Statewide Positivity Rate is 2.98% 59 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

Governor Cuomo: "The numbers are down - when the numbers are down we adjust the economic reopening valve. ... New York on March 19, same day Connecticut goes to 100, our restaurants outside of New York City which have been at 50 percent, will now go to 75 percent. That is everywhere outside of New York City. That is all very good news. ... All the same safety capacities remain in effect but we will go to 75 percent. ... If the numbers change, if something happens, if there is a downtown, then obviously we will adjust."

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that restaurants outside of New York City, which have been operating at 50 percent capacity, can now move to 75 percent capacity starting March 19. The data has shown that restaurants can operate safely and in accordance with strict health protocols at 75 percent capacity. New York City restaurant capacity will remain at 35 percent capacity.


AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.


A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:


Good afternoon. Happy Sunday. We have our Sunday team on today. We have Peter Ajemian, we have Beth Garvey, we have Robert Mujica, we have Kelly Cummings, we have Dr. Zucker who are on the phone.


Good news, good news, good news: Positivity 2.98 percent. 59 New Yorkers passed away. They're in our thoughts and prayers. You look for relative peace in this. That's the lowest one-day death number since December 6. 4,700 New Yorkers hospitalized, down 165. Lowest number since December 6. 999 COVID patients in the ICU, down 13. First day ICU patients have been below 1,000 since December 9. Good news. 682 patients intubated yesterday, down 12. Good news. All good news.


Long Island, 4.3; Mid-Hudson, 4.2; New York, 4; North County 2.55; Western New York, 1.99. Turn around, Western New York. 1.99, Capital Region; Finger Lakes, 1.7; Mohawk Valley, 1.5; Central New York, .9. Great turn around. Southern Tier, .7. Statewide, 3.1, which is way, way down. Bronx, 4.8; Staten Island, 4.4. Bronx, still highest, but making progress and we've done a lot of work in the Bronx and it's showing. 4.8 in the Bronx, 4.4 Staten Island, 4.2 Queens, 4.1 Brooklyn, 2.65 Manhattan.


Someone should do a study on community behavior and COVID spread. Demographics study and a behavioral study. Vaccine, we are hitting an all-time record. The White House has greatly accelerated production, as you know. That has forced states to dramatically increase vaccine administration. It's good news that the federal government moved up production by 2 months, but now the states have to ramp up more quickly than they expected.


We're going to do about 850,000 vaccines this week which we believe is going to be an all-time record for us. We've done more than 5.5 million total doses. 3.6 first doses, 1.9 second doses. We have opened 24-hour mass vaccination sites. Javits did 13, 431 vaccines yesterday in a 24-hour period. We believe that is the largest number of vaccines ever delivered in the country in a single day. 13,431. Yankee Stadium has gone to 24 hours. State Fair has gone to 24 hours. This is because this week we have a one-time additional vaccine bonus from Johnson & Johnson, but you're going to see the numbers continue to ramp up so we're planning to do more mass vaccination sites and more 24-hour sites.


The 24-hour sites, we were worried that nobody would want to get a vaccine in the middle of the night. The 24-hour sites when we opened the night time hours, they were filled in 6 or 7 hours. Thousands of appointments which is good news because it means people are ready to take the vaccine.


I'm signing today the legislatures emergency powers bill and I'm going to implement it today with a significant change. The numbers are down, when the numbers are down we adjust the economic reopening valve. Connecticut is going to 100 percent restaurant capacity on March 19. Massachusetts went to 100 percent restaurant capacity on March 1. New York on March 19, same day Connecticut goes to 100, our restaurants outside of New York City which have been at 50 percent, will now go to 75 percent. That is everywhere outside of New York City. That is all very good news. It's not just good news for the restaurant owners. Remember you have a lot of staff at restaurants, there are a lot of jobs, there are a lot of suppliers, so we'll go to 75 percent. We also think that 75 percent is what the consumer is ready for. All the same safety capacities remain in effect but we will go to 75 percent. Dr. Zucker adds a caveat between now and March 19. If the numbers change, if something happens, if there is a downtown, then obviously we will adjust.


With the new law that the Legislature passed, we will make this public, the Legislature has five days to review the change and we'll discuss it with any members of the Legislature or local governments who have issues. Legislature has the ability to cancel it with 50 percent of the vote.


Really good news is what's happened with the federal government and passing of the relief package. The big problem for this state besides COVID and doing the vaccines has been the economic deficit and then our long term recovery. The federal government providing the federal relief is a major, major boost for this state. The State gets $12.5 billion, New York City gets $6 billion, and there are additional aide packages in there. It's a great piece of work by President Biden. I spoke to him about it a number of times and his team, but it was a great piece of work. I applaud Senator Schumer, I applaud Senator Gillibrand, I applaud our Congressional delegation that fought very hard. We had multiple conversations about this, and you know, the state delegation worked very hard and we all advocated very hard for New York and this package is really very strong for New York. Congressman Jeffries, Congressman Nadler, they all worked very hard, so this is good news.


This does not mean this is going to be an easy budget. It means it is now a possible budget, not an easy budget. Why? You still have tremendous needs that COVID created. Rent needs, assistance needs, daycare needs, job and employment needs, so you have tremendous needs. Also, this budget is going to raise two big questions. It's going to raise the question of taxes, how much do you need to raise in tax revenue given the federal bill, and what are the smartest and best ways to raise revenue? You can raise revenue in ways that actually cost the State revenue, so there is going to be a discussion about taxes. There is also going to be a discussion about a cliff. What does that mean? This federal aid is really the ultimate one-shot when you think bout it. You get, let's say $10 billion into the State, but it's what they call one-shot, it's a sugar high. It is non-repetitive, so how you spend it, where you spend it, how quickly you spend it, is going to be very important because this is not a sustainable level of spending. This is basically an emergency relief bill, and it is non-recurring, so you give an organization $10 million this year, there is no $10 million next year for the organization, right? You couldn't possibly match this level of revenue. That's going to make the budget tricky. It is also going to allow us to accelerate though our reconstruction program, because remember if step one was get the budget done, step two was you have to rebuild. You have to rebuild physically, you have to rebuild morale, you have to rebuild public safety, you have to rebuild public transportation, you have to rebuild New York. This is not going to be natural evolution, where New York just ascends naturally. We took a beating here, and we're going to have to build back. But with this federal aid, it's a big piece towards that role.


One last piece, there are some legislators who suggest that I resign because of accusations that are made against me. I was elected by the people of the state, I wasn't elected by politicians. I'm not going to resign because of allegations. The premise of resigning because of allegations is actually anti-democratic and we've always done the exact opposite. You know the system is based on due process, and the credibility of the allegation. Anybody has the ability to make an allegation in democracy and that's great, but it's then the credibility of the allegation, and we've gone through this with the legislature. I remember when we set up JCOPE. We set up this whole elaborate process that the accusation was private. The person who was accused got a private letter, but the accusation was private. Why? Because it's damaging to publicize allegations before you know that they are credible. JCOPE has hundreds of allegations, but until they are reviewed, they're private.


The Inspector General's office is private, hundreds of accusations, but until you go through the due process. So, we have the Attorney General who's doing an independent review. She has all the allegations, anybody can make an allegation to her, and let the Attorney General do her job. She's very good, she's very competent, and that will be due process and then we'll have the facts. That's why Senator Schumer said let the Attorney General do her investigation, Senator Gillibrand said let the Attorney General do her investigation, Congressman Jeffries said let the Attorney General do her investigation, the White House Spokesperson said let the Attorney General do the investigation, because that's democracy. So no, there is no way I resign. Let's do the Attorney General investigation, let's get the findings, and then we'll go from there. But I'm not going to be distracted by this either. We have to get a budget done in three weeks; we have a lot of work to, a lot of work to do for this state.


This is not about me and accusations about me, the Attorney General can handle that. This is about doing the people's business, and this next six months I believe will determine the future trajectory for New York State. What we do in this budget, how successful we are in rebuilding, how positive we portray this state going forward, how resilient we appear. We have to say to those New Yorkers who are looking at us and saying do they have a future or do they not have a future. Should I move to a warmer climate? Is New York ever going to come back? We have six months of an open window where we have to say you're damn right we're coming back, and we're coming back stronger than ever before, and not just say it, we're going to show it and you're going to see new public works, and you're going to see a real shot in the arm for this state. You're going to see us do vaccines where we're going to have the massive vaccination effort where people will see this is going to be a thing of the past. We're going to beat COVID. No government is better at doing its job than this government, and we've shown that all through COVID, and we're not going to be distracted from that.

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