Food & Drinks

Cuomo Is ‘Not Contemplating’ a Return to Indoor Dining in NYC Even as Other U.S. Cities Reopen

Cities across the country have reopened for indoor dining in recent weeks, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that New York City will not be one of them. In a press conference on Monday, Gov. Cuomo shared that his administration is looking into ways “to open up more economic activity and reduce some of the restrictions.” When asked about resuming the city’s ongoing indoor dining ban, however, Cuomo said he was not “contemplating any changes”

“The indoor dining in New York City is a New York City-specific condition and we’re not at this point — at this point — contemplating any changes,” according to Cuomo, who put the city’s indoor dining program on hold in December.

The announcement comes on the heels of growing demands from restaurateurs and industry experts to reopen New York City for indoor dining. The New York State Restaurant Association, a group that represents tens of thousands of restaurants across the state, called on the Cuomo administration earlier this week to extend the existing 10 p.m. curfew on restaurants to 12 a.m. and to resume indoor dining in New York City.

Outspoken critics of the indoor dining ban, including Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, have pointed to the fact that restaurants in most other parts of New York state have been open at half-capacity for indoor dining since mid-January.

“Governor Cuomo’s never-ending restrictions keeping indoor dining closed at New York City restaurants, while keeping it open around the rest of the state where infection and hospitalization rates are higher than in New York City, is discriminatory and is destroying the livelihoods of small business owners and workers,” Rigie says.

Dozens of restaurants and bars across the city have temporarily closed for the winter as a cost-saving effort so they can stay open for the long term, and industry experts predict countless more will close permanently without the return of indoor dining.

In December, the Cuomo administration released data showing that restaurants and bars accounted for 1.4 percent of COVID-19 cases in the last three months of 2020, with the bulk of infections — nearly 74 percent — attributed to private gatherings. Even so, the state continues to point to the high population density of New York City as a risk for the coronavirus spreading more rapidly.

The state’s ongoing indoor dining ban comes as cities across the country relax regulations around indoor and outdoor dining. Cities including Philadelphia, Chicago, and Washington D.C. have all resumed indoor dining at 25 percent capacity in recent weeks. Meanwhile, California lifted its curfew and stay-at-home order this week, allowing outdoor dining in the state for the first time since November.

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