What to Know
- The New York City Hospitality Alliance is pushing to restart indoor dining in an effort to help restaurants hit hard by the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.
- On Wednesday, the group held a press conference demanding a timeline from the city and state for the reopening of indoor dining.
- Many local restaurants and bars thought they’d be able to reopen back in July but that has not been the case, even though, the alliance says, they have met the guidelines that have allowed other restaurants in other areas of the state to reopen.
The New York City Hospitality Alliance is pushing to restart indoor dining in an effort to help restaurants hit hard by the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.
On Wednesday, the group held a press conference demanding a timeline from the city and state for the reopening of indoor dining.
Many local restaurants and bars thought they’d be able to reopen back in July but that has not been the case, even though, the alliance says, they have met the guidelines that have allowed other restaurants in other areas of the state to reopen.
"We have met, sustained and exceeded the benchmarks that have allowed the rest of the state to open and now we are sitting here six weeks later with no plan. So today..we demand a plan from Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio about when and how indoor dining is going to reopen in the city of new York," Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said. "These businesses need to plan, they need to decide whether or not they are going to turn in their keys, if they are going to continue to exhaust their personal savings in the hopes of maybe one day being able to reopen."
More than 200,000 service workers are still unemployed. The hospitality industry says they need answers from the city and state now and "not having one is unacceptable."
“New York City Public Schools are opening. Gyms announced that they’re opening and all these different sectors of the economy are opening. We need a plan for New York City restaurants and not having one is unacceptable," Rigie said.
Although outdoor dining has allowed a bit of respite for some restaurants, Rigie said that "outdoor dining was never meant as a solution to save our restaurants" and questions still remain as to what should restaurants do when the weather drops come fall.
When asked about the NYC Hospitality Alliance's demand for the state to issue a plan for the restaurants in the Big Apple to reopen, Cuomo said he understood the hardship that many businesses face, particularly the restaurant business.
"With restaurants, we are very aware of it. We made the provision to the outdoor dining, precisely for that reason," the governor said. "Now, they are right, the weather is going to start to get cold: what are we going to do if its cold and people don’t want to eat outside? I get it. Again, that’s in the fall, and today in this environment, two weeks is what a year used to be, right? Everything changes every two weeks."
Additionally, Cuomo went on to say restaurants in New York City are not dealing with the same environment as restaurants in other parts of the state due to a number of factors -- including a lack of compliance in New York City, as has been seen in recent weeks with the governor sharing his frustration over what he has described as a lack of enforcement on the part of local governments for infractions ranging from crowding to masklessness.
"They’re different demographically, they’re different in population, they’re different by density, they’re different by crowding factor. Westchester County never had the problem that New York City had. Nassau never had the problem that New York CIty had. They’re two totally different environments. And are we more careful in New York City because of those factors? Of course we are. It would be negligent not to be," Cuomo said, adding: "Even though that the current dynamics are totally different we have much, a much bigger problem in New York City today than any of the surrounding suburbs with the lack of compliance."
On Tuesday, the mayor and city health officials talked about indoor dining, they maintained that according to data from around the world eating and drinking indoors is a common link to infections.
Although the alliance said it has a very collaborative relationship with city and state officials, it is keeping all options open.
"All legal options are on the table," the group's counsel, Robert Bookman, said.