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Cuomo Suspends Indoor NYC Dining Again, Enclosures Included

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo
NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Photo Credit: E. Katz

Enjoy this weekend if you’re going out to eat in New York City: Indoor dining ends there for an indefinite period -- again -- on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.

A month-long increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York City made the move necessary, he said.

The shutdown cripples the city hospitality industry during the year’s biggest holiday season.

Both the New York Restaurant Association and the New York City Hospitality Alliance have said accused the governor of unfairly limiting indoor dining at city restaurants while favoring those elsewhere.

Restaurants in the city had been allowed to operate at 25% of capacity indoors the past two months while those in other parts of the state were permitted to reach 50%, they said.

Nearly 90% of city restaurants couldn’t make the full October, rent, the alliance noted.

The shutdown also affects the growing number of entirely-enclosed outdoor dining structures, which are subject to the indoor ban, city restaurateurs said.

Propane and electric heaters aren’t going to suffice outdoors when the weather turns colder, they argue, adding that strict guidelines limit what and how much they can do with gas.

Cuomo countered that the state has done its best to help city merchants, whom he said have been able to expand outdoor dining and increase takeout options, which are still permitted.

“This is a situation that has affected every business community, not just restaurants,” the governor said. “It's every business community and every family.”

Cuomo called New York City “one of the densest locations in the country with crowding.

“[A]nd you have an increase in the rate of transmission, which has always been one of the seminal factors in this whole conversation."

Restaurants and bars in the state of New York have accounted for 1.43% of the spread of COVID-19 in September and November, behind only household gatherings (73.8%), healthcare workers (7.8%), higher education settings (2%) and school employees (1.5%), its health department reported.

Cuomo last month limited restaurants citywide to to takeout and delivery after 10 p.m.

He’s also closed different parts of the city based on case clusters in Washington Heights, Mott Haven and sections of Queens and the Bronx.

The new move, however, is the first citywide shutdown since March, when restrictions began in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he supports Cuomo’s decision to “100 percent.”

“I feel tremendous empathy for restaurant owners,” he said. “We want them to survive, we need them to survive. But, at the same time, these numbers don’t lie.”

Indicators the city uses to monitor the spread of COVID-19 -- including hospitalization rates and positive test numbers -- all exceeded their safety thresholds for the first time on Friday, the mayor said.

“That’s a second wave,” he said.

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