Governor Cuomo announced today that indoor dining would return at 25% in New York City on September 30th.
Cuomo gave two reasons for the delay in the City as compared to the states other municipalities, all of which are currently operating at 50% indoor capacity.
“Compliance was lacking in New York City,” he said, adding that there were outbreak clusters seen in other areas of the state as well that prompted caution.
The new indoor dining will look extremely different from what New Yorkers were used to, with mandatory temperature checks, contact information required for contact tracing, enhanced air filtration and ventilation, and no at-bar service allowed.
Aron Watman, the owner of Cena restaurant in Brooklyn and two bars in Manhattan, will be able to fit 18 people inside his restaurant with the new restrictions.
“I feel like it’s been a long time coming here. It’s better than nothing, but at the same time, I have bars in the city. Bars require volume, so, it’s definitely not good for the bar industry. For the restaurant industry it could be definitely a step in the right direction,” Watman said.
The dining announcement comes on the heels of the filing of a lawsuit, brought forth by a number of restaurant owners, and supported by Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, State Senator Andrew Lanza, and Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo. Malliotakis feels that the Mayor’s declaration is a direct result of the lawsuit, and also announced that they would still be proceeding, demanding a 50% occupancy.
“Why should it be different for New York City? Every other municipality in the state is currently open at 50% capacity, and there’s no reason that New York City shouldn’t be treated the same as long as we meet the metrics, which we do,” Malliotakis said. “It’s discrimination towards New York City.”
Senator Andrew Gounardes pushed hard for the reopening of indoor dining.
“Restaurants are vital to our city’s economy & culture. We need to monitor indoor dining closely to be sure it’s safe, & small businesses still need substantial relief. But this is a big step in the right direction, & I was happy to work w/ local restaurant owners to get it done,” Gounardes said today on Twitter.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Cuomo have been, as usual, back and forth with each other about the issue.
In a statement released today, de Blasio said that “science will guide our decision-making as we continue to monitor progress and health care indicators over the next three weeks to ensure a safe reopening,” and that if the city gets to 2% positivity rate things will be immediately reassessed.
Cuomo also announced the addition of 400 code enforcement inspectors in New York City to work alongside the expanding State Liquor Authority and State taskforce. The city will also rely heavily on its residents to keep things in check.
“The new idea to assist with compliance is this— New Yorkers themselves will help with compliance. New Yorkers will keep New Yorkers safe. The New York community is the best compliance unit. New Yorkers have shown all through this that they have forged community,” Cuomo said. Residents who see violations are encouraged to call (833)208-4160 or text VIOLATION to (855)904-5036 for anonymous tips.
Andrew Rigie, the director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, says that they are grateful for the announcement.
“We’re thankful to Governor Cuomo for announcing a return to indoor dining with a blueprint for future expansion. Restaurants are essential to New York’s economic and social fabric, and indoor dining is a key component to the industry’s recovery,” Rigie said.
The success of indoor dining still remains to be seen, however.
“I have a feeling that a lot of people are not going to want to come back inside. Even if they say 25% of people we may not even have that, people might stick around outside until it gets colder,” Watman said.