New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on June 12, 2020 in New York City.
Jeenah Moon | Getty Images
New York City restaurants will be allowed to reopen their indoor dining areas at 25% capacity beginning Sept. 30, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday.
Restaurants, which have been staying afloat over the summer through takeout and outdoor dining services, will be required to take customers’ temperatures at the door, enforce mask wearing and social distancing rules.
The city’s restaurants and bars have remained closed since mid-March as New Yorkers sheltered in place to prevent further spread of the coronavirus tearing through its hospitals. Even as cases began to decline in New York over the summer, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Cuomo postponed reopening restaurants for indoor dining in early July as other states across the country reported growing outbreaks.
“We have seen clusters outbreak from restaurants, so that was the reason for caution,” Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany. “We’ve been working on this issue everyday and we’re now announcing today that we can go to 25% of indoor dining with certain restrictions that will be enacted on September 30.”
In recent weeks, the governor has allowed the city’s malls, gyms and museums to reopen with limited capacity but has held back on reopening restaurants for indoor dining services, even though other parts of the state were allowed to serve customers inside. Cuomo has repeatedly criticized city officials for not enforcing social distancing rules for outdoor dining services, citing that as part of the reason for the delay.
Last week, he called on the New York Police Department and the New York State Restaurant Association, which has pushed for indoor dining in the city, to create a plan or a “task force” that would effectively allow restaurants to reopen while enforcing the governor’s rules.
On Wednesday, Cuomo estimated that 10,000 establishments will need to be inspected to ensure they’re following the state’s Covid-19 health precautions. The state plans to expand its current “task force,” which includes the State Liquor Authority. New York City will also provide an additional 400 inspectors to work alongside the task force, he said.
The Empire State governor warned, however, that even with increased enforcement, everyday New Yorkers will be held responsible for aiding the state’s effort. Restaurants will be required to post a phone number customers can call or text to report violations to the task force, he said.
“I believe in New Yorkers’ ability to do the right thing. That’s not blind faith,” Cuomo said. “New Yorkers I think are more informed about Covid than anyone in the country.”
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