Cuomo to allow NYC indoor dining at 25% capacity on Sept. 30

No bar service will be allowed yet, the governor said

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that New York City restaurants may open for indoor dining at 25% capacity beginning Sept. 30 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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The announcement, which comes with a laundry list of regulations on how dining rooms may be reopened, comes after restaurant owners warned of layoffs and closures with colder weather on the horizon.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said later that if the five boroughs hit a 2% COVID-19 positivity rate, the city will "immediately reassess."

Cuomo, during a press conference Wednesday, acknowledged the “economic benefit” of restaurants being opened and the “economic pressure” the industry has faced amid the pandemic.

“A restaurant is not just the restaurant owner, its the kitchen staff, wait staff, there is a whole industry around restaurants,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “And restaurants also pose a possible risk, concentration of people inside with indoor dining.”

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Cuomo said that the majority of the state of New York is serving customers indoors at restaurants at 50% capacity, but noted that he has seen “a cluster of outbreaks from restaurants.”

“We knew compliance was lacking in New York City,” Cuomo said, explaining why New York City has been closed for indoor dining. “That was a reason for caution.”

“We’re now announcing 25% with indoor dining, with certain restrictions on Sept. 30,” Cuomo said.

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Cuomo explained that there will be “temperature checks at the door,” and that “one member of each party” will be required to leave contact information so that the restaurant can conduct “contact tracing” if there is an outbreak related to the restaurant.

Photo: Getty Images

Cuomo explained that there will be “no bar service,” but that bars will be opened for the wait staff only, to “make drinks and transfer them over the bar.”

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Customers will be required to wear masks at all times inside the restaurant, except when seated at the tables, which will be situated at least six feet apart.

The governor's office also announced a team of 400 enforcement personnel to work with the State Police Task Force to ensure compliance in New York City restaurants.

Cuomo also encouraged customers to report through the state’s anonymous system if there is any kind of violation of coronavirus guidelines, so that the state can “hit the pause button” on “any of the activities we’re allowing.”

“New Yorkers will keep New Yorkers safe,” Cuomo said Wednesday.

According to the governor's office, restaurants must publicly post their 25% indoor dining capacity and the phone number and text number to report violations. Patrons who observe violations "can report issues by calling 833-208-4160, or by texting ' VIOLATION' to 855-904-5036," the governor's office said.

Cuomo added that the state has set a deadline of Nov. 1 to determine whether the state will allow up to 50% capacity in restaurants in New York City.

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De Blasio said, later, that the reopening plan "puts health and safety first by including strict capacity limits, a close monitoring of citywide positive testing rates and a coordinated inspection regimen."

He added: "Science will guide our decision-making as we continue to monitor progress and health care indicators over the next three weeks to ensure a safe reopening."

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De Blasio acknowledged that "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."

According to de Blasio's office, the city's outdoor dining program, "Open Restaurants," has given the restaurant industry a "lifeline."

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"More than 10,000 restaurants are participating, and the program has saved an estimated 90,000 jobs," according to de Blasio's office.