New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that New York City will shut down indoor dining beginning Monday, but that outdoor dining and takeout/delivery would remain.
“In New York City, you put the CDC caution on indoor dining together with the rate of transmission and the density and the crowding, that is a bad situation,” said Cuomo during a press conference. “The hospitalizations have continued to increase in New York City. We said that we would watch it, if the hospital rate didn’t stabilize, we would close indoor dining. It has not, we are going to close indoor dining on Monday.”
More than 1,500 NYC residents are hospitalized and bed capacity is below 20 percent. The hospitalization rate is 2.41 per 100,000 New Yorkers—a figure that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio wants below two. The seven-day average of new cases is 2,614 and The rolling average of NYC residents testing positive is 5.32 percent.
de Blasio stood behind the decision to temporarily shutter indoor dining.
“I support him 100 percent because we have to protect against the worst,” de Blasio told the media. “The worst is the virus just grows and grows, that more and more people get infected, our hospitals start to get stressed and then get to the point where they can’t provide the service that people need. That puts lives in danger.”
New York City first shut down in-person dining in March. It wasn’t until June that outdoor dining began. Soon after, indoor dining was scheduled to return, but it was delayed because of a rise in COVID cases during the summer. Dining rooms didn’t reopen until the end of September, but only at 25 percent capacity. In November, Cuomo set a 10 p.m. curfew for State Liquor Authority-licensed restaurants and bars.
New York City joins several other cities and states that have closed indoor dining, including California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, St. Louis, and Baltimore.
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said that while health and safety are paramount, Cuomo’s decision doesn’t make sense given the data. He noted that Manhattan has a positivity rate of 2.7—less than half of many counties throughout the state where indoor dining is still open (Albany, 7.2 percent; Westchester, 6 percent; Suffolk, 6.1 percent).
Rigie also lamented that restrictions are coming without economic support.
“Closing indoor dining in New York City will severely jeopardize the survival of countless small businesses and jobs and now it’s more important than ever that all levels of government pass critical support to help save the industry,” Rigie said in a statement. “The federal government must enact the RESTAURANTS Act, a revitalization program to help mitigate the economic and social devastation caused by the pandemic, state government must extend and strengthen the eviction mortarium through 2021 and enhance unemployment benefits for the thousands of workers who will lose their jobs again, and city government must permanently cap third-party delivery fees and require these companies to give restaurants ownership of their customer data.”
According to New York’s data, restaurants are responsible for 1.4 percent of COVID cases, compared to 74 percent from living room spread.
The Five Borough Chamber of Commerce Alliance said the restrictions couldn’t have come at a worse time for restaurants, which are “are holding on for survival by a thread and trying in some way to make up for the devastating losses of the past nine months.”
“This shutdown marks a completely different economic climate than restaurants faced at the onset of the pandemic, where many were in a better financial position and supported by federal stimulus funding,” the organization said. “We now fear that thousands of small businesses will be forced to permanently close their doors and lay off employees, which will have an irreversible impact on the city’s economic recovery and social fabric. To prevent the total collapse of the nation’s largest and most vibrant restaurant industry, the federal government urgently needs to enact a new COVID-19 relief package.”