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Experts Say Indoor Dining in NYC Should Be Banned Before School Closures

Plus, a new Yemeni coffee shop lands in Williamsburg — and more intel

People have lunch at Chelsea Square Restaurant as New York City restaurants open for limited capacity indoor dining on October 1, 2020 in New York Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

NYC schools face looming shutdown while indoor dining continues

In a new report, the New York Times examines why the city isn’t considering closing down indoor dining before schools, which are facing a likely shutdown soon as COVID-19 cases rise in the city. Schools have been relatively low places of transmission, according to the NYT report, while restaurants are a different story. The NYT cited a September CDC report that found that people who contracted COVID-19 were twice as likely to have eaten in a restaurant; as well as public health experts who repeatedly said that indoor dining was more likely to transmit the virus versus people in classrooms.

As it stands, NYC will shut down in-person learning when COVID-19 test positivity rates hit 3 percent on a rolling seven-day average. NYC’s test positivity rate currently sits at 2.6 percent, a figure that has been steadily rising over the past week.

The mayor previously said that indoor dining would be shut down once test positivity rates reached 2 percent, but no action was taken after rates crossed that threshold. Earlier this week, the mayor called for indoor dining to be reevaluated but the state — which holds the power to make that call — has not said publicly whether indoor dining may be rolled back in light of the rise in COVID-19 cases.

In other news

— A new Yemeni coffee shop Qahwah has opened its doors in Williamsburg, selling a variety of coffee blends, Yemeni teas, and chai, plus pastries like khaliat alnahl, the soft, cheese-filled honeycomb bread.

— NYC restaurant owners including Eric Ripert and Stephen Starr say that rolling back indoor dining without the promise of more government relief in sight would be another huge blow for the industry.

— Downtown hotspot the Odeon responds to a New Yorker review that dunked on the restaurant’s outdoor dining setup.

— The city’s first booze-free spirits shop, Spirited Away, opens in the Lower East Side.

— Restaurants including Paisley in Tribeca and Baar Baar in the East Village are gearing up for Diwali celebrations this weekend with special prix-fixe menus. Paisley’s menu — $65 for the vegetarian option and $75 for the non-vegetarian option — includes dishes like jaipuri kofta and baghare prawns; while Baar Baar is doing an interactive four-course menu on Sunday featuring duck seekh kebabs and a layered kachori chaat for $60 per person.

— Need to get my hands on this spread from Qahwah: