New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday said he will open nearly two dozen streets for outdoor dining across the five boroughs after his decision to halt the city’s Phase 3 reopening to allow indoor dining amid the coronavirus pandemic.
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De Blasio on Wednesday had announced that the city could not proceed with indoor dining as part of its Phase 3 reopening as planned on July 6, citing surges of positive coronavirus cases in states across the country.
But this weekend, de Blasio will open 22 streets for outdoor dining to continue to support restaurants and their employees.
“It’s going to be amazing,” de Blasio said. “It’s going to key into some of the places in the city where we have extraordinary restaurants, concentrated one place. People love to go there anytime. But now, imagine being able to enjoy it all alfresco.”
De Blasio said some of the streets will include Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and Little Italy and Mulberry Street in Manhattan.
“Think about what is possible if we could make them centerpieces of outdoor dining, taking a tough situation and turning it into something good,” de Blasio said. “We’re gonna do it all over the five boroughs.”
De Blasio added that the city is looking to “double down” and “give maximum options to our restaurants.”
“We know that people want it,” de Blasio said. “We’ve seen an incredible, incredible response from the people in New York City.”
De Blasio’s announcement comes after he said he could not open indoor dining at a 50 percent capacity beginning next week as initially planned.
“Let the facts take us to the right decision. We know a lot of other areas in the country made decisions based on other than data…Florida, Texas, even California, that tried really hard to get it right,” he said, noting that it has become clear that “people going back to bars and restaurants indoors is the problem more and more.”
“I want to make very clear,” he continued. “We cannot go ahead at this point in time with indoor dining in New York City.”
De Blasio said that the city will continue to work with the state of New York “to figure out what is the exact right way to do this.”
“We have been in absolute unity with the state on the focus on data,” de Blasio said. “The data in this state, this city is getting better all the time, but data around the country is getting worse and worse…shockingly worse.”
De Blasio cited National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Anthony Fauci’s warning earlier this week that the U.S. could see as many as 100,000 coronavirus cases a day if a current spike in cases does not subside.
De Blasio’s decision comes as states, including Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, have paused or backtracked their reopening plans as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has soared. In Arizona, health officials reported 3,858 more confirmed coronavirus cases Sunday, the most reported in a single day in the state so far and the seventh time in the past 10 days that daily cases surpassed the 3,000 mark.
Last week, De Blasio noted that safety precautions would be in place, including diners wearing masks or face coverings until they are seated at their tables — which will be set 6 feet apart — while restaurant workers will be expected to wear their masks at all times.
But Wednesday, de Blasio said “outdoor dining is working. Period" and encouraged New Yorkers to continue supporting local restaurants by dining outside.
“Outdoors is where we need to be to the maximum extent possible as we fight this disease,” de Blasio said, noting that New Yorkers now know “the power of doing things outdoors, the power of social distancing and the power of face coverings.”