Up to half of bars and restaurants in New York City may be forced to close permanently within six months after having been devastated by the coronavirus lockdowns.
An audit released Thursday by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli revealed that a third to half of the establishments that comprise one of the city’s key industries could shutter and never return, costing the city more than 150,000 jobs, according to the New York Post.
“The industry is challenging under the best of circumstances, and many eateries operate on tight margins,” said DiNapoli. “Now they face an unprecedented upheaval that may cause many establishments to close forever.”
Even with the reopening of indoor dining Wednesday, capacity remains capped at 25% occupancy with other strict measures regarding social distancing and temperature taking.
New York City has been roiled with debates over indoor dining in recent months, with the onerous lockdown restrictions drawing condemnation even from some lawmakers who claimed they were being inconsistently applied. As The Daily Wire reported:
Democratic state Sen. Diane Savino told the New York Post [in August], “It’s a real problem when you represent a border community. People say to me: ‘I don’t understand why I can’t eat indoors in this restaurant. I’m in the Bronx and I can go across the street in Westchester and eat indoor in other places?’ Is there something magic in the air over there?”
“What they want is just consistency — that’s what’s driving people crazy. Everyone understands the governor wants to keep us safe, but again they ask: why can I eat indoors in Nassau [County] but not in Queens?” Savino continued.
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, told the New York Post on Aug. 5, “It’s been one month since indoor dining in New York City was postponed. Yet, we’ve met metrics allowing restaurants throughout the rest of the state to reopen indoors and our government leaders have not provided any guidance to small businesses that are teetering on the edge of extinction.”
“The whole situation is absolutely devastating,” he added.
As recently as late August, the city’s Democrat mayor Bill de Blasio said on a radio show that “we do not have a plan for reopening dining in the near term.” Following a $2 billion class-action lawsuit against de Blasio, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and New York state attorneys general to force them to permit indoor dining, Cuomo announced in early September that the city’s restaurants would open in limited capacity by the end of the month.
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.
Related: Cuomo Announces Indoor Dining To Return To NYC In Limited Capacity After Class-Action Lawsuit