Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a day after rebuffing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to shut down non-essential businesses like restaurants in parts of Brooklyn and Queens with spiking COVID-19 infections, introduced a plan to shut down non-essential businesses like restaurants in parts of Brooklyn and Queens with spiking COVID-19 infections.
In this new zoned shutdown effort, restaurants in parts of Borough Park, Midwood, Bensonhurst, Kensington, Sheepshead Bay, Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, and Far Rockaway will be restricted to takeout-only, according to maps released by Cuomo on Tuesday evening. Those neighborhoods are part of what the state has dubbed the red zone.
Establishments in orange zones, which for now appear to include parts of Sunset Park, Brighton Beach, and elsewhere, will be able to do outdoor dining, with a maximum of four people per table, but no indoor dining. Venues in the yellow zone will have both indoor and outdoor options, with the same four person cap on tables. New York City restaurants in areas not under Cuomo’s new code system can currently accommodate up to 10 diners per table indoors.
The zoned shutdown begins Thursday, October 8, and will last for a minimum of two weeks, and potentially longer depending on if the spread of the virus is brought under control in these hot spots.
Cuomo had suggested yesterday that he might close nonessential businesses in hot spot zones, but took issue with de Blasio’s plan to assign shutdowns according to ZIP codes. The governor is instead using cluster data to tailor the closures.
Cuomo didn’t initially release the boundaries of the zones he had identified earlier today prompting confusion, with Twitter users demanding that he release the map of the planned shutdowns.
The zones don’t line up precisely with neighborhood boundaries. Gravesend, for example, appears to mostly be in the yellow, but has sections in both the more restrictive orange and red areas as well. Kew Gardens, Forest Hills, and Rego park also straddle all three zones.
The city initially reported an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the affected areas just days before NYC’s return to indoor dining on September 30, following a six-month closure of dining rooms. For the week that followed, both Cuomo and de Blasio said they’d keep a close eye on the situation before announcing any type of shutdown measures.
The mayor’s office had previously suggested that it would reconsider indoor dining citywide if the COVID-19 positivity rate went above two percent, but over the weekend Mayor Bill de Blasio decided that the city was going to take a more focused approach. On Sunday, he announced his intention to shutdown indoor and outdoor dining in nine affected ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens, and take away indoor dining in 11 additional ZIP codes including parts of Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy, Clinton Hill, and areas of South Brooklyn that had also seen a rise in cases, but not as high as the nine ZIP codes.
De Blasio intended these new restrictions to go into effect on Wednesday, but needed Cuomo’s approval to move forward. The governor agreed to the schools closure part of de Blasio’s plan, but nixed his plan to limit indoor and outdoor dining by ZIP code, before announcing his own plan today. Cuomo’s zoned plan did not include parts of Williamsburg and Bed-Stuy as had previously been outlined by the mayor.
The COVID-19 crisis has brought a yearslong feud between the governor and the mayor to the forefront, with Cuomo and de Blasio clashing over their respective authorities, and with both politicians often taking opposing views on various issues — from policing to schools to dining — in a very public manner.
Cuomo, who’s asking for 400 personnel to help with enforcement, said the COVID-19 positivity rate is 5.5 percent in areas throughout the state suffering from spikes. New York’s overall infection rate is 1.45 percent.
UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect Cuomo’s release of the zones where businesses will have to close.