Indoor dining has been stripped away in parts of Brooklyn and Queens.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed an initiative Tuesday that will increase restrictions on restaurants based in COVID hotspots.
The news comes a week after New York City began indoor dining at 25 percent capacity with temperature checks, contact tracing requirements, and limited hours. The city has allowed outdoor dining since June.
If an area is declared a red zone (cluster), then restaurants may only operate via off-premises. If it’s an orange zone (warning zone), then the location may offer outdoor dining with a maximum of four people per table. The lowest bar is the yellow zone (precautionary zone) where both indoor and outdoor dining is acceptable.
New York laid out a three-part plan to resolve COVID clusters. The first step is to take action within the cluster where the density of cases is the highest. Then additional action is taken in the area surrounding the cluster, and as a precautionary measure, more action is taken in the outlying area.
The rules will be in effect for a minimum of two weeks. The initiative currently applies to clusters in Broome County, Brooklyn, Queens, Orange County, and Rockland County.
"A cluster is just that—it’s a cluster of cases, a high density of cases, and it seeps and grows from that cluster almost in concentric circles,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Drop a pebble into the pond, the pebble goes in, then there's one ring, two rings, three rings, and the rings continue across the pond. When you see the cluster, you have to stop it at that point. Our strategy is to crush the cluster and stop the spread, and we're announcing a special initiative to do just that.”
The news is a particularly crushing set back for Brooklyn and Queens, which were left without indoor dining from March until the end of September along with the rest of New York City. Brooklyn has one area with a red, orange, and yellow zone, while Queens has two areas with a red, orange, and yellow zone.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said there’s nine NYC zip codes where the positive rate has remained above 3 percent for seven straight days.
“I think here's a case where we need to really work deeply with communities, with community leaders, to have a bigger turnaround in the way people are handling things,” De Blasio told CNN on Monday. "And, unfortunately, the restrictions are the way to ensure that we can reset, get these rates back down again, and then hold at that lower level long-term.”