New York City restaurants will be allowed to reopen their indoor dining areas at 25% capacity beginning Sept. 30, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.
Restaurants, which have been staying afloat over the summer through takeout and outdoor dining services, will be required to take customers’ temperatures at the door, enforce mask wearing and social distancing rules. They also must close at midnight and can’t offer seats at a bar but can still serve alcohol to tables, he said.
Aside from outdoor dining and takeout, the city’s restaurants and bars have been closed since mid-March as New Yorkers sheltered in place to prevent further spread of the coronavirus tearing through its hospitals. Even as cases began to decline in New York over the summer, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Cuomo postponed reopening restaurants for indoor dining in early July as other states across the country reported growing outbreaks.
In recent weeks, the governor has allowed the city’s malls, gyms and museums to reopen with limited capacity but has held back on reopening restaurants for indoor dining services, even though other parts of the state were allowed to serve customers inside at 50% capacity.
New York has reported an infection rate below 1% for 33 straight days — well below the 5% goal recommended by the World Health Organization for reopening. Cuomo has warned, however, that the state is now in a “post-Labor Day phase” where the flu season threatens to complicate its Covid-19 response.
If reopening indoor dining goes well, and there’s not a significant increase in the state’s infection rate, New York City restaurants could be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity, he said, adding that the state will make that decision by Nov. 1.
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