Update: Gov. Cuomo announced Wednesday that restaurants in New York City would be allowed to open for indoor dining at 25% capacity beginning on Sept. 30. Customers will be subject to temperature checks at the door and will have to leave contact information for the purpose of contact tracing. There will be no bar service and no service after midnight. The original story is below.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he doesn't want to allow New York City restaurants to have indoor dining services until Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) establishes a social distancing enforcement task force, according to WNBC-TV.
Restaurant owners are suing Cuomo and de Blasio over the continued restrictions, which remain in place despite the number of daily COVID-19 deaths sitting in the single digits and the infection rate staying below 1%. Even though restaurants in other parts of New York and New Jersey can serve customers indoors, Cuomo isn't budging on New York City.
"If we have the enforcement mechanism in place, then we can talk about opening restaurants," Cuomo said Tuesday, WNBC reported. "It would be negligent and reckless to open indoor dining, knowing that you have issues in Upstate New York, knowing that compliance is going to be a problem, and knowing that you have no enforcement mechanism. And we're still working through that because I believe local governments could help us accomplish this goal if they wanted to."
The State Liquor Authority and a State Police Task Force monitor restaurants for compliance with COVID-19 regulations in areas outside New York City.
De Blasio, meanwhile, said he doesn't even plan to have a timeline for indoor dining until the end of September, which means there is no relief in sight for restaurant owners even as the impact of COVID-19 is nearly nonexistent relative to the number of people in the city.
"We've been patient, the numbers are fantastic, the COVID statistics, we don't know what more we could do," said Robert Hanley, general manager of NYC restaurant Bocelli. "This is a lawsuit. We don't wanna do this. This is not us, we are workers. We work 100 hours a week. It's not a luxurious lifestyle. I have waiters; none of them drove here in a Ferrari today."
Malls in New York City are open with 50% capacity and casinos are open with 25% capacity, although food and beverage service is unavailable to people who go to those places.
New York has travel restrictions on people from 35 states that require them to quarantine for 14 days if they travel to New York. The COVID-19 statistics can't get much better than they are right now for the state that in April was experiencing nearly 1,000 deaths per day. From WNBC:
Meanwhile, New York went from the epicenter of the national crisis to celebrating a full month of daily COVID positivity test rates below 1 percent, which is what allowed establishments like malls, gyms and museums to reopen in the first place. Total hospitalizations are also at six-month lows and daily deaths are in the single digits.