Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced during a Wednesday press conference that indoor dining will return — in limited capacity — to New York City restaurants by the end of September.
According to the New York Daily News, Cuomo explained that there will be strict measures governing restaurants that choose to reopen. Restaurants must remain at 25% capacity, maintain six feet between tables, take patrons’ temperatures, log their contact information, shutter walk-up bar service, and close by midnight.
“Opening restaurants, I understand the economic benefit and I understand the economic pressure they’ve been under,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo’s announcement follows a $2 billion class-action lawsuit against him, claiming he is violating the constitutional rights of the more than 300,000 people employed in the city’s restaurant industry. The Daily Wire reported on Sept. 4:
On Thursday, restaurants in New York City filed a $2 billion class-action lawsuit against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and New York Attorneys General to force them to permit indoor dining. “Over 350 restaurants have signed on to the $2 billion lawsuit,” Forbes noted.
“One restaurant in Queens argues customers can walk blocks away into Nassau County if they want to eat indoors. Il Bacco on Northern Boulevard says it is unfair that indoor dining is illegal in Little Neck, but legal just a few blocks east in Great Neck, on Long Island. In fact, New York City is the only city in the state that still does not allow some form of indoor dining,” ABC 7 reported.
Joe Oppedisano, owner of Il Bacco, said, “Every restaurant is packed and me, a block and a half away, I can’t open. The restaurant can have customers on its rooftop, but not on the first two floors of the building. And winter is coming. The weather is warm now, but what happens two or three weeks from now? And then when it rains? I’m lucky I have a rooftop and I have a cover I can open and close, but once it gets cold, I can’t do that anymore,” Newsday reported.
Cuomo also said that they would reassess the situation on Nov. 1 and, if transmission rates remain low, capacity limits could expand to 50%.
Cuomo nevertheless issued a severe warning to any restaurants that do not comply with the new orders. “This is not an issue you want to fool around with. It is not worth the risk,” Cuomo said. “If you lose your license, that’s months of being out of business — assuming you can get the license back.” The city will add 400 people to an existing task force to enforce compliance, he also said.
As recently as a couple of weeks ago, de Blasio had said “we do not have a plan” regarding reopening indoor dining.
Regarding why schools could reopen when restaurants could not, de Blasio said, “I don’t think there’s a similarity at all. We have an imperative — a legal imperative, a moral imperative, an educational imperative — to give kids the best education we can. We know that means having at least some time in person.”
“Versus indoor dining, which is obviously a very optional activity, which some people do a lot who have the resources and others can’t do at all because they don’t have the resources,” he added.
New York City has been hemorrhaging residents in recent months, leading Cuomo to beg the city’s rich to return and pay taxes to make up for the state’s cratering revenue.
Related: ‘We Do Not Have A Plan’: De Blasio Admits Having No Timeline For Reopening NYC Indoor Dining