NYC Mayor Says ‘Just a Matter of Time’ Until Indoor Dining Halts

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it’s “just a matter of time” until the state orders a halt to indoor dining.

A shutdown likely will come “in the next week or two,” de Blasio said Thursday at a news briefing.

On Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo had warned that the entire city could be placed into the state’s orange-zone category of Covid-19 problem areas, which means indoor dining must cease and outdoor dining must be limited to four people per table. Restaurants were closed for more than five months during the initial outbreak, and have been limited to 25% capacity since Sept. 30.

The orange zone would apply to New York City if the state calculation for seven-day average positive tests reaches 3%. The state and the city use different criteria to calculate that number; the city’s average reached 3% on Nov. 18, resulting in the shutdown of in-person school.

NYC Mayor Says ‘Just a Matter of Time’ Until Indoor Dining Halts

New York City’s restaurant industry had 23,650 establishments in 2019 that provided 317,800 jobs, paid $10.7 billion in total wages and delivered nearly $27 billion in taxable sales, according to an Oct. 1 news release from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, based upon a study completed in September. The industry accounted for about one in 12 private sector jobs citywide in 2019.

In April, as businesses were ordered closed, the city’s restaurant employment dropped to 91,000 jobs, according to DiNapoli’s report. Taxable sales for the industry also fell by 71% during March, April and May compared with a year earlier. As rules were loosened, employment grew to 174,000 in August.

De Blasio has tried to help restaurants by allowing them to set up outdoor dining on closed streets, extending the program into the winter and allowing them to use propane heat lamps and tent-like enclosures. While about 10,500 signed up to participate, many remained shut “because they didn’t have enough outdoor space or resources to open outside, and could only do takeout and delivery,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in an email.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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