New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday said he would not reopen indoor dining in New York City despite the infection rate being less than one percent for weeks in a row now because, he said, it would double the number of bars currently open and there is no one to enforce social distancing standards.
The reasoning came after a conglomerate of bar and restaurant owners sued the state for $2billion in damages, claiming they were being unfairly shackled and stopped from making money.
New York City – which has more bars and restaurants than any other city in the US – remains the only metropolis in the world that is yet to resume indoor dining.
It is also the only place in the state of New York that has not been allowed to welcome diners inside again.
As colder weather approaches, outdoor dining – which has only been an option for a small percentage of the city’s establishments – will end.
Gov. Cuomo said on Tuesday he would not allow indoor dining to resume until there is a team in place that would enforce social distancing rules. He says the NYPD can’t do it because they are overstretched and that no one else has been put forward to handle the problem
With no plan to let people back inside, the industry is under an unprecedented threat.
But on Tuesday, Cuomo said he would not allow it to start up again unless the city – ie Mayor Bill de Blasio – came up with a unique task force to enforce the rules.
De Blasio has put forward no such plan.
‘We have seen that opening bars has created a compliance and enforcement nightmare.
‘From our experience Upstate, opening indoor dining caused issues. I beseeched the local governments to help and they did not.
‘I would need additional enforcement capacity. It could be a local police department or it could be local health inspectors,’ Cuomo said at his briefing.
New York City’s infection rate has remained below 1 percent for more than a month now – far below the national average of 5 percent and much less than the 13 percent in Florida.
Despite the dwindling infection numbers, it still has some of the toughest lockdown rules.
Restaurant and bar owners in NYC have been crying out for some form of break for months.
These are the latest numbers for cases, hospitalizations and deaths in New York City – the infection rate has been lower than 1 percent for a month
Despite the low infection rates, restaurants have been forced to shutter because they still cannot welcome diners inside. Countless other restaurants around the country and the world have been able to
Lucky Strike on Grand Street in SoHo on August 31. It is one of the thousands of restaurants that are still closed after months
Sala One Nine, one of the many restaurants that has been forced to close permanently
Lady Gaga’s father Joe Germanotta is among restaurant owners who have joined a class action lawsuit suing Cuomo and de Blasio
First, it took months to allow outdoor dining. Then, Cuomo starting forcing people to buy a ‘substantial amount’ of food whenever they sat down for a drink, which deterred people who did not want a meal.
Germanotta, pictured in an interview this week, said he was barely breaking even as it is
Even those that could accommodate some people on an outdoor basis are calling out for indoor dining to resume because the season for it is so limited. Some have not had the space to allow outdoor dining.
A New York State Restaurant Survey on September 3 revealed that a staggering 64 percent of restaurants say they will not be able to stay open if indoor dining is not allowed soon.
Among them is Lady Gaga’s father, Joe Germanotta, who owns an Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side.
Joanne Trattoria – named after his late sister – has been able to offer outdoor dining but Joe, like other restaurateurs, say he will be in trouble in the fall if he can’t let people inside again.
Gaga’s father Joeruns Joanne Trattoria on the Upper West Side
‘Once the weather gets cold, we’re pretty much out of business.
‘We’re able to have about 20 seats out front now. I’ve got a patio with a couple of seats on the back, but without the indoor dining, I’m just about breaking even.
‘It’s going to be tight especially when the winter hits,’ he said.
His attorneys are demanding an injunction and say they want to the city to prove to them why indoor dining can’t happen.
‘If they’re not going to give us the indoor dining, we’ve got to go out and get it ourselves and that’s the bottom line. We have to force them to show us the science.”
‘Manhattan right now has one of the lowest infection rates in the state. It is ridiculous that New York dining indoors in Manhattan is not allowed and we’re going to have to go get it ourselves,’ his attorney, James Mermigis, said.
Cuomo’s PR team defended his decision.
‘The bottom line is that New York City was hit the hardest and the Governor took action to reduce infection.
‘We understand that some people are unhappy, but better unhappy than sick or worse,’ Richard Azzopardi, chief spokesman for Cuomo, said.