New York City restaurants will be allowed to re-open for limited indoor dining on September 30.
In an announcement issued this afternoon, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that if COVID infections continue to fall, that could increase to 50 percent capacity November 1.
“We have been talking to all stakeholders up until the moment I just walked out,” Cuomo said during a press conference when he announced that 400 extra personnel would be drafted to make sure eateries comply with strict pandemic regulations.
In his own statement, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “Working with the state and public health officials, we’ve achieved a plan that puts health and safety first by including strict capacity limits, a close monitoring of citywide positive testing rates and a coordinated inspection regimen.
“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. This may not look like the indoor dining that we all know and love, but it is progress for restaurant workers and all New Yorkers.”
“The New York City restaurant industry has been financially devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and a safe return to indoor dining is critical to help save these vital small businesses and jobs,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance.
“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.”
The announcement comes following weeks of acrimony between the government and restaurant city owners, some 300 of whom filed a $2 billion class action suit against the state for violating their constitutional rights with the blanket ban on indoor dining.
And while the announcement is good news for the beleaguered sector, the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA) is warning that, without a comprehensive relief package specifically for restaurants, 63.6 percent of New York restaurants said they are likely to close by the end of the year.
“It is painfully clear that without financial assistance, the restaurant industry in New York State could collapse,” said Melissa Fleischut, President & CEO of NYSRA. “Recent survey results illustrate just how dire the financial situation has become for most restaurants, and it shows how critical it is that elected officials understand the urgency of the situation.”
The survey found that 63.6 percent of New York State restaurants said they are likely or somewhat likely to close by the end of the year without some form of financial relief; just 36.4 percent said they are likely or somewhat likely to remain open.
Of those who are likely to close, 54.8 percent will be forced to shut their doors before November.
These results come on the heels of a NYSRA survey from August that found that 89.7 percent of of New York’s restaurant owners believe they will be turning a profit before at least six months.
NYSRA members are asking for federal and state relief that includes commercial rent relief; payment of business interruption insurance claims and; increased capacity for indoor dining.
“Governor Cuomo’s leadership during these difficult times on issues such as alcohol-togo and outdoor dining has provided a lifeline for our members in the past few months. But it’s not enough. We are now asking the Governor, the state Legislature and those at the federal level to simply help us survive. Without further assistance, the restaurant industry as we know it could be gone in a New York minute,” added Fleischut.
Calling the indoor dining plan “an important first step,” Danny Meyer, Founder & CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group, said, “Running a restaurant is a labor of love, and along with many colleagues and staff members, we have struggled through the unparalleled challenges of this pandemic, working our best to safely provide hospitality to hungry New Yorkers via curbside pickup, deliveries and outdoor spaces, not knowing how much longer we can go.
“I join my colleagues in thanking the Governor for opening the door to a safe and gradual recovery by providing a sensible solution for indoor dining and look forward to working with everyone to guarantee the safety of our customers and staff. This is an important first step to hiring back more members of our team, doing more business with our suppliers, and welcoming New Yorkers back to New York.