Indoor dining in New York City restaurants has been off limits since the evening of March 16th, but Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that diners can once again dine inside starting on September 30th—with a host of regulations.
If a restaurant decides to open for indoor dining, here’s what to expect:
- There’s a 25% occupancy cap for dining room
- All diners must have their temperature checked
- At least one person at each table must leave their information for contact tracing
- There’s no indoor bar service at a restaurant
- Restaurants can’t provide service after midnight
- Mask must be worn unless you’re at a table
- There will be “enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards”
It’s been nearly six months since New Yorkers could dine indoors. Restaurants and bars across the city have responded in creative ways: they started selling to-go cocktails for the first time once it was temporarily legalized, many started offering takeout and delivery options, some transformed into grocery stores and outdoor dining has never been so popular.
But the question remains whether restaurants will open their doors or can even make enough money with all the restrictions if they decide to offer indoor dining.
Previously, Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio had given no indication on when indoor dining would return. There were talks that indoor dining shouldn’t start until 2021 with no vaccine in sight for the near future. The mayor had also said the city wanted to see how the opening of school classrooms went before making a decision as well.
Restaurants and bars, however, have been struggling with numerous closures since the current crisis hit the city. Some even joined forces to sue the government since the rest of the state had reopened for indoor dining (New Jersey also just started allowing indoor dining last week).
"The New York City restaurant industry has been financially devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and a safe return to indoor dining is critical to help save these vital small businesses and jobs," said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, in a statement. "We’re thankful to Governor Cuomo for announcing a return to indoor dining with a blueprint for future expansion. Restaurants are essential to New York’s economic and social fabric, and indoor dining is a key component to the industry’s recovery.”
There’s still no word on the future of bars opening indoors.
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