Big Apple inches toward reopening: Revelers dance in Times Square and outdoor diners enjoy unseasonably warm weather: Restaurant capacity prepares to rise to 50%

 New Yorkers were last night dancing in the streets as the City's indoor dining capacity prepares to increase to 50 per cent and Joe Biden told the nation 'there is hope and light ahead.'

Times Square was packed with revelers dancing to speaker systems, while diners in Midtown were enjoying their favorite restaurants, which are now operating at an indoor capacity of 35 per cent, up from a meagre 10 per cent last month.

The joyous scenes came as President Biden gave his first prime-time address to America, giving people hope that though 'this fight is far from over,' he was targeting some semblance of normality for family celebrations on July 4.

'If we all do our part, this country will be vaccinated soon, our economy will be on the mend, our kids will be back in school, and we'll have proven once again that this country can do anything, hard things, big things, important things,' Biden said.

It comes as New Yorkers were told on Wednesday that they can look forward to restaurants operating at half of their indoor capacity from next week, a huge increase from only one in ten tables being available before February 12.

Outdoor dining capacity will also be increased from 50 to 75 per cent on March 19 as the City prepares for a sunny spring of alfresco eating. 

Times Square was packed with revelers dancing to speaker systems last night as New Yorkers look to spring with hope of a return to happier days. The joyous scenes came as Biden gave his first prime-time address to America, giving them hope that though 'this fight is far from over,' he was targeting some semblance of normality for family celebrations on July 4.

Times Square was packed with revelers dancing to speaker systems last night as New Yorkers look to spring with hope of a return to happier days. The joyous scenes came as Biden gave his first prime-time address to America, giving them hope that though 'this fight is far from over,' he was targeting some semblance of normality for family celebrations on July 4.

People make their way through local restaurants amid the pandemic in NYC's Midtown. New Yorkers were told on Wednesday that they can look forward to restaurants operating at half capacity from next week, a huge increase from only one in ten tables being available before February 12.

People make their way through local restaurants amid the pandemic in NYC's Midtown. New Yorkers were told on Wednesday that they can look forward to restaurants operating at half capacity from next week, a huge increase from only one in ten tables being available before February 12.

Diners sit outside at socially distanced tables. From March 19, outdoor dining is to be increased from 50 per cent to 75 per cent in a further sign that the economy is getting back on track in the Big Apple

Diners sit outside at socially distanced tables. From March 19, outdoor dining is to be increased from 50 per cent to 75 per cent in a further sign that the economy is getting back on track in the Big Apple

Diners sit at outdoor tables as the frigid winter temperatures seen last month begin to lift towards a spring of alfresco eating

Diners sit at outdoor tables as the frigid winter temperatures seen last month begin to lift towards a spring of alfresco eating

A maître d' puffs on a cigar as he accepts outdoor diners in NYC. Covid deaths in the City have been steadily declining from a peak of 91 fatalities at the end of January, with 61 deaths recorded yesterday

A maître d' puffs on a cigar as he accepts outdoor diners in NYC. Covid deaths in the City have been steadily declining from a peak of 91 fatalities at the end of January, with 61 deaths recorded yesterday

Covid deaths in the City have been steadily declining from a peak of 91 fatalities at the end of January, with 61 deaths recorded on Monday.

Daily infections peaked at almost 8,000 at the beginning of January and are now down to a seven-day average of less than half that at 3,500 cases per day.

More than 2.5 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the city of 8.4 million to date, that's a shot for nearly a third of New Yorkers.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday: 'In New York State, our decisions are based on science and data and we are encouraged by the continued decline in [COVID-19] infection and hospitalization rates.'

He added: 'We will continue to follow the science and react accordingly. If we keep the infections down and vaccinations up, we will continue to stay ahead in the footrace against this invisible enemy and reach the light at the end of the tunnel together.' 

The hospitality industry, which has desperately been calling for restaurant capacity to be increased, were buoyed by the news.

Andrew Rigie, the head of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, told the New York Post: 'While city restaurants may not increase occupancy to 75 per cent like restaurants are safely doing throughout the rest of the state, it is still welcome news to the battered restaurant industry.'

He added: 'Cautiously and safely increasing indoor dining capacity at New York City restaurants to 50 per cent, with an eye toward expanding in the future, more vaccinations, and dedicated restaurant relief on its way from the federal government gives our industry some optimism among all the doom and gloom of this past year.'

People walk underneath a restaurant and bar which is set up for outdoor dining in Midtown. Daily infections peaked at almost 8,000 at the beginning of January and are now down to a seven-day average of less than half that at 3,500 cases per day.

People walk underneath a restaurant and bar which is set up for outdoor dining in Midtown. Daily infections peaked at almost 8,000 at the beginning of January and are now down to a seven-day average of less than half that at 3,500 cases per day.

A crowd, largely wearing face masks, watches people performing in Times Square. Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday: 'In New York State, our decisions are based on science and data and we are encouraged by the continued decline in [COVID-19] infection and hospitalization rates. We will continue to follow the science and react accordingly. If we keep the infections down and vaccinations up, we will continue to stay ahead in the footrace against this invisible enemy and reach the light at the end of the tunnel together.'

A crowd, largely wearing face masks, watches people performing in Times Square. Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday: 'In New York State, our decisions are based on science and data and we are encouraged by the continued decline in [COVID-19] infection and hospitalization rates. We will continue to follow the science and react accordingly. If we keep the infections down and vaccinations up, we will continue to stay ahead in the footrace against this invisible enemy and reach the light at the end of the tunnel together.'

Mounted New York Police officers patrol Times Square during the pandemic

Mounted New York Police officers patrol Times Square during the pandemic 


The increases in capacity are part of Cuomo's plan 'to jump start their post-COVID recovery and reinvigorate the economy.'

In the governor's announcement he noted that the opening up of more dining tables had seen the passing of two Covid-19 incubation periods, roughly around four weeks total, which 'have passed without any significant rise in infection and hospitalization rates.' 

In his address to the nation last night, Biden struck a note of similar optimism.

'I need you to get vaccinated when it's your turn and when you can find an opportunity and to help your family, your friends, your neighbors get vaccinated as well,' the president said.

'If we do all this, if we do our part, we do this together, by July the 4th, there's a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day.' 

People await the results of a rapid Covid test taken on the street, just yards away from other New Yorkers enjoying some early spring alfresco dining

People await the results of a rapid Covid test taken on the street, just yards away from other New Yorkers enjoying some early spring alfresco dining

People without face masks are seen at Times Square during the coronavirus disease pandemic in New York City on Thursday evening

People without face masks are seen at Times Square during the coronavirus disease pandemic in New York City on Thursday evening

Biden announced moves to speed vaccinations, including lifting eligibility qualifications, deploying an additional 4,000 active-duty troops to support vaccination efforts and allowing more people to deliver shots.

He is also directing more doses toward some 950 community health centers and up to 20,000 retail pharmacies, to make it easier for people to get vaccinated closer to their homes.

Speaking in the White House East Room, Mr Biden marked one year since the onset of the pandemic that has killed more than 530,000 Americans and disrupted the lives of countless more.

'While it was different for everyone, we all lost something,' he said, calling the past year 'a collective suffering, a collective sacrifice.'

Earlier on Thursday, the president signed into law a 1.9 trillion dollar relief package that he said will help defeat the virus, nurse the economy back to health and deliver direct aid to Americans in need.

'This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country,' Biden said as he signed the bill in the Oval Office.  

Joe Biden on Thursday night delivered his first prime-time address, discussing COVID relief

Joe Biden on Thursday night delivered his first prime-time address, discussing COVID relief 

Big Apple inches toward reopening: Revelers dance in Times Square and outdoor diners enjoy unseasonably warm weather: Restaurant capacity prepares to rise to 50% Big Apple inches toward reopening: Revelers dance in Times Square and outdoor diners enjoy unseasonably warm weather: Restaurant capacity prepares to rise to 50% Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 07:11 Rating: 5

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