NYC mayor suggests that the city may be headed toward more restrictions soon.
Operator Danny Meyer, owner of Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), announced Friday that his concepts will shut down on-premises dining because of the rise in COVID cases.
Prior to the move, Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, and the Blue Smoke in Battery Park City were operating with a 25 percent capacity limit. USHG will now pivot to off-premises, nationwide shipping, and virtual food and wine experiences.
“In a year that has been filled with so much emotional and economic uncertainty, I’m so proud of the remarkable efforts our restaurant industry has collectively exhibited, bringing life, light, and hope to the city of New York,” Meyer wrote in a letter. “And I’m enormously grateful to our USHG team members who have gone to such great lengths to create the safest and most welcoming possible environment in which to serve our guests.”
New York City, USHG’s home base, has allowed indoor dining at 25 percent capacity since September 30, after delaying the restart in mid-July. Outdoor dining has been allowed since late June.
Meyer’s move may prove to be a sign of things to come. New York regulates its COVID restrictions through micro-clusters labeled as red, orange, or yellow. If an area is located in an orange zone, indoor dining is shut down, but outdoor dining is still allowed. If the locale is in a red zone, restaurants may only offer off-premises.
Last week, New York City Bill de Blasio predicted that an orange zone will come to New York City by the first week of December. In order for that to happen, the city’s positive rate would have to hit a seven-day average of at least 3 percent for 10 straight days. On Sunday, New York City reported the average was 3.09 percent, but the state said it was 2.54 percent.
"I believe it’s confusing and unnecessary, but it’s also irrelevant," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in reference to NYC’s differing data.
In his letter, Meyer described the work of the restaurant community as “exemplary in its can-do spirit,” but acknowledged that a tough winter is coming. He encouraged customers to patronize all of their favorite brands through gift cards and relief funds.
“We know there remain many hard weeks ahead of us, but with the recent uplifting announcements of advances in vaccines and treatments, we also know real hope is on the horizon,” Meyer said. “The minute winter weather is behind us and the environment returns to feeling safe, we will eagerly return to on-site dining—first on our sidewalks, and eventually in our dining rooms. We especially send our love and heartfelt thanks to the first responders, medical community, and essential workers who are keeping us safe.”