In another major blow to the dining industry in New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered indoor seating at restaurants to be shut starting today. Given the rise in cases and hospitalizations in the city, as of now, only take-out, delivery, and outdoor dining will be permitted.
In a virtual press conference on Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo further disappointed already battered restaurant businesses with another closure- this time, asking to sacrifice indoor dining. Gov. Cuomo stated that the Big Apple’s coronavirus-related hospitalization rate has been dramatically increasing over the last two weeks, which is what made it crucial to have reasonable restrictions in place to curb the further spread.
“The hospitalizations have continued to increase in New York City. We said that we would watch it if the stabilization, if the hospital rate didn’t stabilize we would close indoor dining. It is now. We’re gonna’ close indoor dining in the city on Monday,” said Cuomo, who had warned last week that if the New York region’s hospitalization rate has not stabilized after five days, indoor dining will be closed or reduced in that region.
Cuomo announced that the city will be shuttering on indoor dining even though the state’s own contact tracing data shows that restaurants and bars account for just 1.43 percent of recent known COVID-19 exposures, which does not make the move justifiable, according to numerous restaurateurs and New Yorkers. According to the data based on 46,000 coronavirus cases across the state from September and November, it can be deduced that private household gatherings are linked to the majority of infections at 74 percent.
Once begun, State officials will reevaluate whether to resume indoor dining based on COVID-19 trends over the next two weeks. The restaurant industry has already taken a big hit amidst indoor closures for 6 entire months this year and then operating at a 25 percent capacity since Sept. 30.
Addressing the concerns of the economic downturn that will follow the closures, Cuomo agreed to say, “Yes, there will be economic hardship – the 25 percent to 0 percent [capacity], but we have compensated in other ways.” He continued to point out how outdoor dining in New York City has been “aggressively expanded” and that “The restaurants have adapted and New Yorkers have really adapted.” The governor also said that the federal government “must provide relief to bars and restaurants in this next stimulus package.”
This being said, New York’s restaurant community is peeved at the decision especially since they’ve taken a hit for the longest time and adhered to each and every safety protocol that was asked of them.