Five blocks away at the Consulate, friends Katie O’Brien, 38, and Lauren Meyer, 39, arrived armed with hand sanitizer, hot water bottles and hand warmers to slip inside their gloves. They were happy to learn that the restaurant provided blankets, which they wrapped around themselves as they drank wine at a table near the entrance. When the hamburgers appeared, they took their gloves off and put them back on between bites.
“I decided if I definitely wanted to go out, I just have to accept it’s going to be cold,” said Ms. O’Brien, who was celebrating her birthday.
The two had looked at more than a dozen restaurants for seating that wasn’t enclosed and offered enough space between tables, wanting to be as safe as possible.
Being social while cautious is on many diners’ minds as the number of coronavirus cases in New York increases. While the surge has not been as devastating as the one that the city experienced last spring, the death rate has slowly risen throughout January to about 60 people per day, and more than 50 ZIP codes in the five boroughs show a positive test rate over 10 percent.
The city has also struggled with a sluggish vaccine rollout. In New York City, home to an estimated 8.5 million people, only about 532,000 first doses have been administered. Recently a vaccine supply shortage forced health officials to move scheduled appointments to a later date.
Still, New Yorkers want to get out. In Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Maria Myrtil scouted out Sweet Brooklyn Bar & Grill to see if it had safety protocols in place before making a reservation on Sunday to sit with friends inside a small plastic enclosure resembling a tiny greenhouse.
Ms. Myrtil, 28, approved of the layout, which included a tabletop heater. She did, however, adjust her approach to ordering.