Sept. 9, 2020 By Allie Griffin
New York City restaurants will be able to serve patrons indoors at the end of the month, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.
Indoor dining will resume in the city beginning Sept. 30 at a reduced capacity, Cuomo said.
Restaurants will be able to seat patrons inside at 25 percent of their normal capacity but are not permitted to have bar service.
The announcement comes after restaurants have shuttered their indoor dining rooms for nearly six months in accordance with the state and city regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Restaurant owners and local officials have pushed Cuomo to reopen indoor dining for weeks. In one Queens neighborhood that borders Long Island, a restaurant owner sued Cuomo over the lack of indoor dining in the five boroughs.
Indoor dining has been open in all other regions of New York State since at least June. Furthermore, restaurants in those regions can have customers at 50 percent capacity inside their dining rooms.
Cuomo said indoor dining can increase to 50 percent capacity if the infection rate in New York City doesn’t increase by Nov. 1. He added that the state could decide to increase the capacity level before Nov. 1, but that date would be the deadline.
Cuomo’s decision came after he said the city must have an enforcement mechanism in place for indoor dining to return yesterday, citing poor compliance among bars and restaurants.
He said the state task force — made up of the state police and State Liquor Authority (SLA) — charged with enforcement has successfully increased compliance in New York City.
“Because the compliance has gotten better, we can now take the next step,” Cuomo said.
He said the state will expand the taskforce and the city will commit 400 additional inspectors to work with the state task force.
Cuomo is also asking New Yorkers to assist with compliance by alerting officials when they see a restaurant disobeying COVID-19 regulations, such as the 25 percent capacity by calling or texting the task force hotline.
“I’m asking New Yorkers to be part of the solution,” Cuomo said. “I believe in New Yorkers ability to do the right thing.”
New Yorkers will keep each others safe, he said.
The state will shut down indoor dining in New York City if there is a spike in the infection rate. If the rate reaches 2 percent in New York City, the state and city will reassess indoor dining.