BY: KELLY MCCARTHY

(NEW YORK) —  After months of calling on lawmakers to provide a plan for indoor dining in New York City, restaurant owners finally received good news on Wednesday when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced they could welcome diners back inside at the end of the month.

Restaurants will be allowed to operate at 25% capacity beginning Sept. 30, but they must adhere to “strict restrictions,” Cuomo added.

Additionally, there will be no bar service, tables must be 6 feet apart and at least one diner in each party must leave contact information for possible tracing purposes.

UPDATE: On September 30, indoor dining in NYC can resume at 25% capacity.

Strict restrictions will be in place. pic.twitter.com/ORzwGM67PQ

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) September 9, 2020

Bars and restaurants, especially in New York City, have been hit hard by COVID-19 closures. Recent changes to delivery, takeout and outdoor dining regulations helped some weather the storm, but patio and curbside seating options won’t be sustainable in colder temperatures.

Hundreds of restaurant owners across the city’s five boroughs recently filed a class-action lawsuit against city and state officials seeking $2 billion in damages because of the lack of guidance on allowing establishments to serve customers inside.

The move to reopen restaurants at limited capacity — enforcing rules on social distancing, spaced-out tables, temperature checks and facial coverings — initially was slated to start during phase 3 at the beginning of July, but Cuomo postponed the reopenings “until the facts change and it is safe and prudent.”

New York City is the only city in the entire state without any form of indoor dining. New Jersey restaurants resumed indoor service at 25% capacity on Friday.

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