New York City indoor dining is shutting down indefinitely in New York City starting Monday as COVID-19 hospitalization rates climb past 5,000 for the first time in nine months on Thursday (5,164) and positivity rates continue to climb, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference on Friday. There is no timeline on reopening indoor dining rooms and restaurants will only be able to rely on outdoor dining, takeout and delivery options for the foreseeable future.
Earlier this week, Cuomo had warned that indoor dining would be the first to go if hospitalization rates keep rising. Currently, more than 4,800 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized statewide, according to NBC News. On Friday, the same-day hospital admissions in New York City topped the 200-threshold for the first time since May 9.
On Friday, Gov. Cuomo also suggested that harsher lockdown measures may soon take place, and that if any of New York State’s regions hits 90% hospitalization capacity over the weekend, then he will impose a “red zone shutdown,” which would mean that nonessential businesses, schools and restaurant table service would close in that particular region for an indefinite amount of time.
When asked to comment on how this latest measure would affect restaurants struggling to survive, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told NBC News reporters:
"I feel tremendous empathy for restaurant owners, a lot of them are mom and pop businesses, we want them to survive. We need them to survive. At the same time, these numbers don't lie. For the first time unfortunately all three of our indicators are past their thresholds. That's a second wave. We have to fight it back to save lives. We have to fight it back to start our recovery."
According to New York State’s latest contact tracing data, 73.8% of COVID-19 cases are caused by community spread via household and social gatherings, with 1.4% attributed to restaurants and bars. Cuomo has attributed part of this disparity in numbers to Thanksgiving.
"While public health and safety must be paramount, Governor Cuomo’s announcement to once again shut down indoor dining in New York City is at odds with the state's own data that’s been presented as driving these decisions, and it will be the last straw for countless more restaurants and jobs," Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality alliance said in a statement. "And the restrictions begin on Monday with zero economic support for small businesses that are already struggling to survive."
Rigie further notes that Manhattan has a positivty rate of 2.7% and is shutting down indoor dining, while other New York State county positivity rates are nearly triple that rate but remain open, including Albany (7.2%), Westchester (6.0%), Suffolk (6.1%).
This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly.
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