The doors to the Bel Aire Diner in Astoria have been open all year round, but from Wednesday you can walk through them without a mask, if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Additionally, restaurants like Bel Aire can officially operate at 100% capacity, but with limits.
“Super excited, super excited. I can’t wait to be open to full capacity again, ”said manager Chris Pappas.
The state is following CDC guidelines allowing fully vaccinated people to be indoors without a mask, but private companies can choose whether or not to continue to need them.
In restaurants, although they are allowed to open at full capacity, they must continue to keep customers at least six feet apart or erect barriers between tables.
Diners can show proof of vaccination or recent negative tests, so the six foot rule does not apply.
This is good news for Papas, who said employees will continue to wear masks to make diners feel comfortable, but there is some confusion over how to apply the new guidelines.
“They have the app now. You can bring your card if you wish, but for the most part we will try to do our best with what is given to us and ask that everyone be patient and work together to make it go smoothly and that we hope we can look at this in the past and not have to deal with it anymore, ”he said.
As for customers early in the morning, some were delighted to hear the news.
“I don’t think it will be a challenge at all and the reason why, as long as everyone is being honest, there is no reason for the system to fail,” said Verseti, an artist based in New York City. . “We just have to make sure we continue to be safe and that’s a great thing for business. Unfortunately, many businesses have had to close because of the pandemic and that will increase our economy, help many businesses and I’m really happy for New York.
Some, however, are not quite there yet.
“I think I will still be wearing my mask for a while until I feel more comfortable that not everyone who comes here is wearing a mask,” said Kathy Litschel, adding: “The masks ]are just part of my daily dress. “
Another choice of restaurants is to have vaccinated and unvaccinated sections inside, and there will likely be growing pains to figure it all out.
The next restriction lifted is the indoor dining curfew, which ends on May 31.