New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he does not have a plan to allow New York City restaurants to reopen indoor dining, blaming difficulties with enforcing coronavirus restrictions during a conference call on Thursday.
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New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson released a statement on Wednesday declaring "it's time" for New York City to ease back into indoor dining, citing neighboring New Jersey's decision to do so.
After months of surviving with outdoor dining and takeout and delivery, city restaurant owners say the coming colder weather could be fatal for their businesses. While owners have tended to blame Mayor Bill de Blasio for lacking a plan to reopen dining rooms, Cuomo said any decision would need to be made by the state government.
"That's not a decision that's going to be made by New York City," Cuomo said on Thursday. "They have no legal authority to make that decision. The state will make that decision, I happen to agree with the speaker. I'd like to see the restaurants open."
Having announced that casinos in the state and malls in New York City may reopen at limited capacity and with coronavirus regulations on Sept. 9, Cuomo said the state lacks the manpower to make sure restaurants are complying by any reopening guidelines and suggested that key discussions with local officials and the restaurant industry have not yet taken place.
"We're going to contact the speaker today and say, look, if New York City can say this many police, NYPD, can be put on a task force to monitor the compliance, that's something that we can discuss," Cuomo continued. "I'm going to say to the Restaurant Association that desperately wants to open, and I understand the economic pressure, can you tell me how we're going to enforce it, and how we're going to monitor compliance?"
Cuomo referenced difficulties enforcing coronavirus restrictions for bars during Thursday's call.
"We have major problems in New York City with the compliance on the bars," Cuomo said. "I have beseeched New York City to do a better job on compliance and enforcement. We've put together a task force to do the enforcement on Long Island and in New York City. We are taking state police resources from many places to put on that task force."
New York City restaurants will be in even more trouble if the city is "surrounded by indoor dining but prohibited from participating in it," New York City Hospitality Alliance executive director Andrew Rigie told FOX Business Thursday.
"New York City restaurants should use the same successful state-developed protocols that the rest of New York state restaurants are currently using to operate indoors," Rigie said. "New York City has met, sustained and exceeded all the same health metrics that allowed those restaurants to open up."
The New York State Restaurant Association is pushing for state relief for restaurants and on Thursday released a survey claiming that 63.6% of New York restaurants said they are likely to close by the end of 2020.
“These recent survey results illustrate just how dire the financial situation has become for most restaurants, and it shows how critical it is that elected officials understand the urgency of the situation," Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, said in a statement.
Earlier this week, de Blasio seemed to suggest New York City may not resume indoor dining until there's a coronavirus vaccine.
"If we now open restaurants, that is going to complicate by the hundreds if not thousands the number of establishments that have to be monitored,” Cuomo said. "How is that gonna happen? I don't have any more state resources to do it."