NYC Delays Indoor Dining With Virus Cases Soaring Elsewhere

New York City will delay the return of indoor dining, which had been planned for July 6, as other states experience a spike in Covid-19 cases after reopening their restaurants and bars, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday. The decision was made with the state, he said.

“It is not the time to forge ahead with indoor dining,” de Blasio said, citing surging outbreaks in Florida, California and Texas. “The news we’ve gotten around the country gets worse and worse all the time.”

NYC Delays Indoor Dining With Virus Cases Soaring Elsewhere

Instead, de Blasio said the city would help restaurants expand their operations outdoors on sidewalks and curbside parking spaces. “I’m very convinced we can help restaurants survive, but we have to do it safely and do it outdoors,” he said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed the move to delay the restart of indoor dining at a later news briefing. Reopening plans will continue throughout the rest of the state, he said. “This is a New York City only modification because frankly it’s a problem that is most pronounced in New York City.”

Cuomo said residents and officials must do better. “We need to see either citizens comply better, or the local governments do a better job on compliance. And we would like to see the viral spread across the nation, at least stabilizing.”

Beleaguered Industry

The city’s second phase of reopening, which started June 22, has permitted more than 6,000 restaurants to set up outdoors, but the limited seating comes nowhere close to returning the beleaguered industry to where it stood before the pandemic forced a citywide shutdown in March.

Studies have found the virus spreads more easily indoors and particularly among diners in restaurants. Epidemiologists have said that in some restaurants, the virus has been transmitted as it moves through an interior space via air conditioning or cooling fans. This factor, combined with New York City’s population density and its status as an international and domestic gateway, heightens the risks of viral spread.

Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said he respected the decision, but the survival of city’s restaurants and bars depends on getting compensation for losses incurred during the four months they have been shut down.

“The longer neighborhood restaurants and bars are forced to be closed, the harder it will be for them to ever successfully reopen,” he said. “This makes it even more urgent to forgive rent, expand outdoor dining and enact other responsive policies.”

The mayor’s news for the city, reeling after months of a virus-imposed lockdown, wasn’t all bad, though. He said the city’s beaches in the Rockaways, Coney Island, Staten Island and the Bronx will open today, and that 15 of the largest public pools will be opened by August.

Three pools -- in the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens -- will open July 24, and the other 12 on Aug. 1, de Blasio said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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