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COVID In New York: Catering Halls, Wedding Industry Looking Forward To March 15 Reduced Capacity Return

WOODBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Catering halls in New York that were shuttered for months and then limited to parties under 50 people are gearing up to strike up the band, so to speak.

In just over a month, they'll be allowed to host 150.

But how will that work? CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff found out on Wednesday.

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Two invitations and now a third in the works, that's how many times Nicole Billone has had to reschedule her wedding due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I, obviously, just want to marry my partner at the end of the day, but it's so expensive. You're paying all this money and you want your dream wedding," Billone said.

She's hoping that's what she will get, now that the state has set March 15 as the start date of bigger weddings.


Caterers may host up to 150 COVID-tested guests at 50% capacity. It's a light at the end of the tunnel for a decimated industry.

"As long as we follow the science, the screening, I think that people can get back to some sense of normalcy," Crest Hollow Country Club CEO Richard Monti said.

Gusoff got a look at what a 50% capacity setup looks like at the Crest Hollow -- tables spread out, separate air filtration in each room, separate entrances and exits, and staggered start and end times.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said she is eager to safely restart parties, but is waiting for state guidance.

"How does dancing work? What does a cocktail hour look like? What does a testing operation look like? Talked about weddings, but does it also include bar mitzvahs and Sweet 16s?" Curran said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office said guidance from the Department of Health is forthcoming.


In Nassau County, 80,000 jobs were lost in the catering industry, with a ripple effect to so many others now hoping for new life.

"The florists, the photographers, the valet companies, the DJs, the bands, clothing boutiques," Nassau Legislator Josh Lafazan said.

Billone said it will take more than just increased capacity to bring back normalcy.

"I want to be able to dance with my husband more than once. I want to have an open bar. I want to have all my friends and family. It's a win for the wedding world, but there are still so much more we are hoping for," Billone said.

And now that restaurant workers are vaccine eligible, will catering workers also be? Nassau health officials said that would make sense for the March start date, if supplies allow.

Some venues that violated capacity rules last year faced stiff penalties. Health officials said they will be enforcing rules when they take effect March 15.


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