New York City moved to close its schools starting Thursday as the city reached a three percent positivity rate for COVID-19 cases on a seven-day rolling average, yet Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed that indoor dining at restaurants will still be allowed for now.
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Cuomo indicated that New York City would likely enter an orange zone if the city reached the three percent threshold, yet he seemed to be unaware of the city’s decision to close schools or the fact that the city had crossed the positivity threshold on Wednesday. According to state data, the positivity rate in NYC based on the seven-day rolling average is at 2.5 percent, yet the city’s data indicates it is now at three percent.
In an orange zone, NYC restaurants and bars would not be able to continue indoor dining, and would be limited to serving four people per table outside, as per state guidelines. At his press conference later in the day, Mayor Bill de Blasio said it would be up to the state whether to designate NYC an orange zone, but asked New Yorkers to prepare for a decision to come soon.
Many Twitter users expressed their consternation at the city’s decision to close schools while keep restaurants and gyms open. Experts have said that indoor dining and gym use is far more likely to spread the virus than keeping schools open.
The lack of clarity from the city and the state leaves restaurants and bars in the lurch once again. For more than a week, restaurateurs have been bracing for an announcement on indoor dining and major cities across the country have moved to close indoor dining as cases spike. In recent days, a growing number of elected officials have also questioned the efficacy of closing schools while keeping restaurants open.
Hospitality industry experts have indicated that more shutdown measures accompanied without any federal or state-level aid will likely decimate the industry further as the city heads into colder weather, making outdoor dining increasingly difficult.
Even though the state and city didn’t impose any further restrictions on restaurants today, de Blasio indicated that more regulations could be coming soon. “The governor and I have spoke several times; he has laid out some of the additional measures that the state will likely be taking quite soon in New York City,” de Blasio said at Wednesday’s press conference, noting that the measures “will likely affect a number of different industries.”
This is a developing story and Eater will continue to update this post