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NYC Restaurant Reopening Will Also Likely Include Limited Capacity, Mayor Suggests

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Plus, Egyptian street food hit Zooba has reopened for delivery and takeout — and more intel

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Mayor Bill de Blasio greets healthcare workers and conducts a press conference at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, New York, April 10, 2020.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio at a recent press conference
Photo by EuropaNewswire/Gado/Getty Images

Mayor considers instituting limited capacity at restaurants and bars during the reopening

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to unveil an official plan as to how the city’s restaurants and bars will be allowed to operate when the city’s businesses start to reopen — but when it comes, it will likely include plenty of social distancing restrictions, the New York Post reports.

During a press conference on May 7, the mayor said that his office is looking at a variety of measures: limited capacity inside restaurants and bars, using more outdoor space for dining, and potentially requiring face coverings and gloves “to make the experience safe,” he said, although he didn’t specify who would be wearing the masks and gloves. Other cities have already implemented similar measures to allow dining out while maintaining social distancing.

“When you think about what we were used to just a few months ago, with restaurants and bars and everyone’s super close together and it’s part of the energy we love about this city, that’s not happening right away to say the least,” de Blasio said at the press conference.

There’s no timeline set yet on when the mandates would be announced, de Blasio said. He pointed towards the recently-announced advisory councils as a step forward in the process.

He also acknowledged that some restaurants and bars might choose not to reopen their dining rooms under strict social distancing restrictions. “For each business they have to decide if that’s a set of conditions they want to reopen with or whether they want to just keep focusing on takeout and delivery,” de Blasio said.

And for diners, NYC’s restaurant scene will not return to its previous state for awhile. “Don’t expect anytime soon that kind of crowded bar or restaurant that we knew before,” de Blasio said. “It will be here one day, but it will not be soon.”

In other news:

— Hit Egyptian fast-casual restaurant Zooba has reopened for takeout and delivery in Nolita. The full menu is available, with one new addition: A baked rice pudding topped with angel hair halva, crushed pistachios, and orange zested blue agave, priced at $4.50. The shop is offering 15 percent off first-time online orders.

— Cafe Altro Paradiso and Estela started selling a new take-home meal box this week with fresh pasta, meats, seafood, and salads. Orders for this weekend already sold out, but the restaurants are accepting pre-orders for next week.

— Small New York farms that sell at NYC’s greenmarkets have seen noticeable sales bumps during the pandemic.

— Michelin-starred tasting menu Oxalis in Brooklyn has pivoted to selling pantry boxes.

— Despite the shutdown, Mister Softee trucks are out in full force — with extra truck sanitation procedures and regular staff temperature checks in place.

— Nonprofit lender Accion has launched its own COVID-19 relief fund for small businesses, including restaurants and bars located in New York City, Westchester, Nassau, and Rockland.

— One burglar has targeted over a dozen restaurants across Manhattan in the past few weeks, stealing cash, liquor, and electronics from the shops.

— NYC top chefs including Eric Ripert, Dan Barber, and Christina Tosi contributed to a new downloadable cookbook called Family Meal that includes 50 recipes for $5.99. All proceeds benefit the Restaurant Workers’ COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.

— An end-of-the-week miracle:

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