By: Shlomit Ebbin  | 

YU Indoor Dining Set to Resume at 25% Capacity Beginning Feb. 12

Indoor dining at dining halls on the Wilf and Beren campuses is set to resume on Friday, Feb. 12 at 25% capacity after they were first closed on Dec. 14 due to New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ban on indoor dining in New York City. Cuomo announced via Twitter on Jan. 29 that NYC restaurants can reopen indoor dining at 25% capacity beginning Feb. 14. He later pushed up the reopening date to Feb. 12.  

The same rules that were in place for dining at YU before the ban — such as signing in and out of dining halls, social distancing and wearing masks except when seated and eating —  will once again be in effect, according to YU Department of Dining Services Director Samuel Chasan. Students are also asked to limit their time in the cafeterias to 20 minutes to make room for other students. Shabbat dining services will also follow the protocol applied prior to the indoor dining shutdown. 

“Several locations will be used on each campus to allow small groups to eat together in a socially distanced manner,” Chasan said. “We at the University Dining Services are so glad that once again students may eat together even if in a more limited fashion than in pre-COVID days.” 

Cuomo said in his tweet that the reopening of indoor dining is dependent on “if positivity rates hold.” At the time of Cuomo’s original ban of indoor dining on Dec. 14, COVID-19 cases in New York were at a 6.8% positivity rate. Currently, the number of cases is steadily declining. However, in his update of New York regulations on Jan. 27, Cuomo stated that “the new strains are a real concern, and the COVID threat is not over.” 

Recently, there was a spike in COVID-19 cases for undergraduate students, and quarantine spaces reached their maximum capacity. At the date of publication, since Jan. 30, there have been four positive cases with four students in isolation and 16 in quarantine, according to the NYS COVID-19 Tracker.  

Flex dollars — which allow students to spend a limited amount of funds on caf cards at university-partnered restaurants — have been reimplemented for the spring semester, after a hiatus during the Fall 2020 semester. According to the YU’s Dining Services, students are discouraged from taking part in the restaurants’ indoor dining facilities. “Even when indoor dining restrictions are lifted, we ask that you do not utilize the establishment’s limited seating. As students can only sit one per table, doing so would cause harm to their livelihood.”

Chop Chop and Lake Como Pizza — restaurants that accept payment with the YU Caf Card — will not be opening indoor dining on Feb. 14, while Tiberias will resume indoor dining on that date; Kosher In Midtown and Burgers & Grill have not yet decided whether to open indoor dining or not.

Students expressed excitement about indoor dining restarting. “I am very happy indoor dining is coming back,” said Jeremy Koffsky (YC ‘22). “It was a big part of why the Fall semester was really nice because it’s really the only time you can let your guard down and talk to friends on campus.”

“I think the reopening of indoor dining is very beneficial for our school. It enables our meals to be properly regulated, ensuring that students are able to eat with their friends in a safe manner,” said Leeba Sullivan (SCW ‘22). “I also just want to say how much I appreciate all the hard work the school and specifically the dining staff has put in to making this the best experience possible for all the students on campus.”

“Last semester was a really tough time for the dining staff. No one knew what Governor Cuomo was going to enforce next, so everyone was on their toes,” shared Jacob Linder (SSSB ‘22), the Wilf Student Life Committee dining liaison. “A ton of students asked me when the dining room was going to be opened again and I’m glad to say that we now have a date!” 

As of the time of publication, Yeshiva University has not publicly announced to students that it will be reopening indoor dining options. 

Photo Caption: Gov. Cuomo announced on Jan. 29 that NYC restaurants can reopen indoor dining at 25% capacity beginning Feb. 14.
Photo Credit: Yosef Lemel