New York City restaurants can resume indoor dining on Sept. 30 at 25% capacity with temperature checks for customers and other restrictions, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.
Cuomo said all customers will undergo temperature checks at the door and one member of each party will have to provide information for contact tracing if needed.
Customers will not be able to sit at bars, which will be to provide drinks for table service, and restaurants must close at midnight. Tables will be required to be 6 feet apart and customers must wear masks while not at the table.
“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.
Restaurants were among the hardest hit businesses when New York City emerged as a pandemic hotspot in March. Thousands of city restaurants have been serving food outdoors this summer, but the industry has been pushing for indoor service as cooler weather approaches.
“Restaurants are essential to New York’s economic and social fabric, and indoor dining is a key component to the industry’s recovery,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in an emailed statement.
The rest of the state outside New York City has allowed indoor dining at half capacity since June, when state officials allowed different regions to open up gradually.
De Blasio had said in late June that New York City was on track to allow indoor dining at half capacity starting July 6. But it was put on hold over worries about the risk of dining in crowded, enclosed indoor areas where people are talking loudly and drinking.
The city has since been able to keep the spread of the virus in check, with about 1% of tests coming back positive.
“We knew that compliance was lacking in New York City. That was a reason for caution,” Cuomo said at a Wednesday briefing.
Neighboring New Jersey recently enacted similar rules.
Cuomo said the state could halt indoor dining if infection rates go up. But if it remains steady, New York City could lift more restrictions on indoor dining starting Nov. 1, when Cuomo said the state will look at the infection data and decide whether to allow increased capacity at restaurants.
“We’ll just watch it and see what we hear and study the evidence,” Cuomo said.
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