Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Monday that NYC could once again lose indoor dining if the city’s hospitalization rate doesn’t stabilize within the next five days. As of Saturday, 1,375 New Yorkers were hospitalized, according to state data, up from 1,354 the previous day, and up from 1,070 patients hospitalized the previous Saturday, November 28.
Previously, Cuomo had warned that indoor dining would be halted in the city if the numbers showed a seven-day positivity rate of three percent or higher for 10 consecutive days. The city has blown past that number and is currently at four percent, according to state data. Yet, on Monday, Cuomo said he intended to focus on the hospitalization rate in an effort not to overwhelm hospitals as was the case during the first wave of the virus in March.
While Cuomo didn’t guarantee a ban on indoor dining, he said the current hospitalization rate indicated that a shutdown order could come as early as Saturday with restaurants being required to implement this order starting Monday. Eater has reached out to Cuomo’s office for more details.
Elsewhere in the state, the current rate of increase in hospitalizations indicates that restaurants there will move from 50 percent indoor dining capacity to 25 percent, according to Cuomo.
Both Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have warned for weeks that the city will lose indoor dining due to the rise in novel coronavirus cases citywide, though both de Blasio and other elected officials across the city have called for the ban to be implemented sooner.
At a press conference on Tuesday morning, de Blasio reiterated and reinforced Cuomo’s earlier announcement. “The statement the Governor made yesterday, I think it makes clear we can expect in a matter of days new restrictions,” de Blasio said. “No one’s happy about it. I feel for the small businesses that might be affected and their employees, but this health situation has to be addressed.”
Restaurateurs and hospitality industry experts on their part say that any additional restrictions on the industry without any federal aid will likely precipitate a large number of closures. Federal lawmakers now appear to be closer to signing a new pandemic relief bill, but it’s still unclear when that legislation will pass, and how much the restaurant industry will be able to benefit from it.
This is a developing story and Eater will continue to update this post with more information