New York City restaurants can resume indoor dining at the end of the month but with certain restrictions.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday (Sept. 9) that the six-month ban on indoor dining will be lifted on Sept. 30, allowing eateries to offer seating at 25% capacity.
All patrons must agree to have their temperature checked at the door and diners are required to wear masks when not seated at a table, New York Times reports. An individual from each party must also provide information for possible contract tracing.
“Twenty-five percent is not that much, but it’s something where you can do some math and know, more or less, how many customers you can have every day,” said Giovanni Gelfini, owner of the Brooklyn restaurant Santa Panza, according to the Times report.
Indoor dining in the city was banned in mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic worsened. Many restaurants have struggled with takeout and delivery orders. An estimated 1,000 restaurants have reportedly closed this year due to the pandemic.
“We’ll exist again, that’s the important thing,” restauranteur Julie Lumia tells the Times. “But we really have to see how comfortable everybody feels about going inside. It’s a tricky one.”
Cuomo said the decision to allow indoor service to resume comes after significant improvement with compliance of social distancing restrictions at restaurants and bars. At a news conference, he noted that capacity could be lifted to 50% by Nov. 1.
“Because compliance has gotten so much better, we can now take the next step,” the governor said.
“There’s a whole industry around restaurants, and restaurants also pose a possible risk,” Cuomo explained. “But there’s also a great economic loss when they don’t operate.”
Cuomo said the state is developing a system for customers to use to report restaurants not in compliance.
“This may not look like the indoor dining that we all know and love, but it is progress for restaurant workers and all New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
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