By: Rebecca Kratz
The first cases of the Covid-19 UK variant have been found in Westchester County. Epidemiological analysis and sequencing of this new strain shows that the UK variant is up to 50% more transmissible than other strains. The increase in possible infection rate is reflected in the hotspots that were labeled in the Westchester area. As of January 22, Ossining had been designated as a Yellow Zone Covid-19 hotspot. This designation means that the 7-day rolling average positivity rate was 8.6%. Another town adjacent to Briarcliff, Tarrytown, had a micro-cluster and was placed in the yellow zone with a 11.4% 7-day rolling average positivity rate. The state identifies a yellow zone to restrict activity to help prevent further spread from red or oranges zones while also providing a larger defined geographic area where metrics can be monitored daily to ensure that Covid-19 is not spreading. With a 7-day average of roughly 13,000 cases in New York state, restaurants have been struggling with the limitations placed on them by the state. The New York State Restaurant Association is asking the state to loosen these restrictions including the statewide curfew for restaurants from 10p.m. to 12a.m as neighboring states also readjust their restrictions. New York as a whole, as of January 16, had been temporarily given the go ahead for indoor dining in orange cluster zones after a Supreme Court decision. Restaurants in orange zones are allowed to operate under yellow-zone restrictions: capacity is capped at 50%. Just 30 minute drive away in Port Chester, there was a rally urging for the revival of indoor dining on December 20, 2020. Only 26 days later on January 15, these indoor dining restrictions were lifted. New York City was hardest hit with the shutdown of indoor dining as restaurant owners in New York City begged Governor Cuomo to loosen restrictions by reopening indoor dining. The main argument took shape in Valentine’s Day related celebrations as said restaurant owners were pleading that people just want to celebrate Valentine’s Day inside. They say that they are willing to play by the rules, but Governor Cuomo insisted that New York City restaurants won’t be included in the coming schedule of changes. Simply put, any indoor area creates an ideal environment to spread the virus. So, it is up to the consumers if they are willing to take the risk to eat indoors at any newly opened restaurants. The cold weather and recent snow storms have exacerbated these dining situations as well as interruptions in the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine and the dreaded alternate side parking rules. Even though more restrictions may be lifted, the same safety precautions are paramount to ensure the safety and health of strangers and family members alike.