New York City restaurants will be allowed to resume indoor dining, with strict restrictions.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that restaurants can restart indoor dining on September 30, but they will be limited to operating at 25% capacity.
"Because the compliance has gotten better, we can now take the next step," Cuomo said in a press conference on Wednesday.
Restaurants will have to abide by other rules including temperature-checking guests at the door, enhanced filtration, and one member of each party providing contact information for tracing purposes. They will have to close at midnight and bars will remain closed, but will be open for wait staff only.
The announcement comes after many restaurants have been struggling to stay afloat after being forced to shutter in March during the coronavirus pandemic.
Nearly 64% of restaurateurs said they are likely or somewhat likely to close by the end of this year unless they receive financial relief, according to a survey of more than 1,000 restaurant owners conducted by the New York State Restaurant Association. Roughly 55% of those restaurant owners who said they are likely to close said they expect to shut down before November.
"I understand the economic pressure they've been under," Cuomo said. "A restaurant is not just the restaurant owner, its the kitchen staff, wait staff, there is a whole industry around restaurants. And restaurants also pose a possible risk, concentration of people inside with indoor dining."
Cuomo noted that the state of New York had set a deadline of November 1 to reassess if the state will allow up to 50% capacity in New York City restaurants. The double in capacity for indoor dining is contingent upon the infection rate staying below its current rate of 0.91% across the state, Cuomo said. The rate has remained under 1% for 33 days consecutively, the governor added.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio nodded to Cuomo's announcement in a statement about indoor dining, noting that it was a "contributing factor" to spikes in other countries, specifically in Europe.
"The really important piece of this is our opportunity to do more with indoor dining is directly related to how well we do on the health picture overall. If we keep fighting back the coronavirus, more and more options open up. If the coronavirus starts to re-surge you're not going to see a lot of things, including indoor dining," De Blasio said.