The resumption of indoor dining in New York City hinges on a “huge step forward” — like the development of a coronavirus vaccine, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.
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The mayor sounded less than optimistic that eatery owners and workers would be able to start earning a living again — and diners able to enjoy a meal inside an eatery — before the June 1, 2021, return date, set earlier this month.
“We do expect — and pray for and expect — a vaccine in the spring that will allow us to get more back to normal,” he said at his daily press briefing, “but I will absolutely tell you, we’re going to keep looking for that situation where we can push down the virus enough where we would have more ability to address indoor dining.”
De Blasio’s grim message came despite the city recording a 0.59 percent COVID-19 infection rate — “one of our lowest” rates since March, he said Monday.
It’s also in contrast to neighboring New Jersey, which just announced that restaurants would reopen for indoor dining at 25 percent capacity starting Friday. Every other region in New York state, including the neighboring Long Island and Westchester suburbs, have had some indoor dining in place for weeks.
Still, de Blasio said the city’s continuous low infection rates aren’t enough.
“Is there a way where we can do something safely with indoor dining? So far we have not had that moment, honestly,” he said.
He added, “It’s going to take a huge step forward to get to that point and that’s the truth.”
Federal officials have said a coronavirus vaccine could be ready by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, the mayor is considering extending dining al fresco beyond its current Oct. 31 endpoint.