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NYC Restaurants Can Resume Indoor Dining At 25% Capacity On Valentine's Day, Cuomo Says

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Indoor dining will resume in New York City on Valentine's Day at 25% capacity per order of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Problem is, restaurant owners say his romantic gesture is breaking their hearts.

As CBS2's political reporter Marcia Kramer reports, the winter weather is so intense that finally allowing diners to come in from the cold is a welcome development. But many restaurant owners say the governor's decision is like being handed a bouquet of wilted roses.

WATCH: Gov. Cuomo Announces Indoor Dining In New York City 

"I'm a little angry. I was hoping we could open before Valentine's Day, because Valentine's Day is not just the day. It's the whole weekend people celebrate," said Regina Migliucci-Delfino of Mario's restaurant.

"Now what's he trying to prove, saying on Valentine's Day, like that's his sweetheart gift to the restaurant community. Come on. You know what he can do with his Valentine's Day gift, correct?" said Peter Guimares of Bice restaurant.

"It's better than zero occupancy, but it's not going to help a lot because 25% is not sufficient," said Fanis Tsiamtsiouris.

RELATED: NYC's Restaurant Week To Go Extended Through The End Of February

Restauranteurs are heartbroken they're going to have to wait another two weeks until Valentine's Day to be able to re-open at 25% occupancy, yet restaurants around the rest of the state - with higher infection rates and higher hospitalization rates - have been open since the summer at 50%.

Claud Fatu, owner of Harlem Nights, is ready to move his business back indoors, especially with frigid temperatures sticking around in the coming days and a snow storm in the forecast.

"People are not coming out, it's too cold," he said.

Cuomo may have thought it was tapping into his romantic side by ending a two month ban on indoor dining in New York City on a holiday that symbolizes love, but the hard-hit restaurant industry wants more - much more. That put the governor on the defensive.

"Some restaurants say 25% is not enough. Look, 25% is better than zero, and that's where we are now. If the numbers continue to get better then that number will go up, but if hell happens... then we'll have the opposite problem," Cuomo said.

Watch Marcia Kramer's report --

Some restaurant owners chose to look on the bright side.

June Lieng at Lesia was filled with excitement, overjoyed that he can soon bring diners back inside.

"It's unbelievable. I'm so happy, and my boss is so happy," he told CBS2's Cory James.

He says the timing doesn't bother him.

"I follow by the government and I think whatever their choice is a good choice," he said.

Fatu also chose to be optimistic about the announcement.

"The indoor dining is, I think is going to bring our regulars back, folks that are too cold and don't want to catch pneumonia sitting outside," he said. "So we're ready for it."

Many restaurant owners say they understand the delay of reopening indoor dining, especially with the Super Bowl approaching and wanting to prevent large crowds of people.

They also say waiting until Feb. 14 gives them some time to prepare.

Watch Andrea Grymes' report --

To prove he's not hard hearted, the governor said he will now allow wedding venues to reopen on March 15th providing:

  • All guests are tested
  • Attendees are limited to 50% of capacity, up to 150
  • Local health departments give the thumbs up

"New York says 'I do'," Cuomo said.

And he offered an option for anyone with love in their hearts.

"Dinner on Valentine's Day. You propose on Valentine's Day, and then you can have the wedding on March 15," Cuomo said.

The governor said the state is exploring the possibility of creating a low-cost engagement ring with an "I love New York" heart on it, but he was kidding.

"Today, our efforts on behalf of the restaurant industry and the calls of restaurant operators have paid off. We thank the Governor for permitting the reopening of indoor dining in New York City at 25% capacity and easing statewide restrictions on receptions and gatherings at restaurants and catering facilities. While these are small steps toward reopening the economy, allowing shuttered businesses to welcome back customers is a step in the right direction, nonetheless. We will keep doing our part to keep our employees and diners safe so we can continue to make progress toward a full reopening as soon as possible," said Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association.

The governor noted the city's positivity rate has dropped from over 7% at the beginning of the month to 4.9% Friday.

More From CBS New York:

CBS2's Andrea Grymes, Marcia Kramer and Cory James contributed to this report. 

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