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New York City’s Return to Indoor Dining Has Been Officially Postponed

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The announcement follows alarming COVID-19 spikes in other states

People sit outside The Smith on the Upper East Side as New York City moves into Phase 2 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic on June 30, 2020.
People eating outside at the Smith in Midtown
Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images

Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed Wednesday that New York City’s return to indoor dining — which was scheduled to begin on Monday, July 6 — has been postponed indefinitely. The decision is a response to the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, particularly in Texas and California, in part due to indoor dining, the mayor said.

“The data in this city and this state has been getting better all the time but the data around the country has been getting worse and worse and worse,” the mayor said in a press conference announcing the news. “The last few days, shockingly worse.”

NYC will coordinate with the state’s government to determine when to bring indoor dining back to the city, according to the mayor. In other parts of the state, indoor dining is already underway as part of New York’s phase three reopening plan.

“We’re going to work with the state of New York to figure out what is the right way to do this,” the mayor said. Personal care services and outdoor recreation will still be allowed to resume as the city enters phase three of reopening next week.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo echoed the news in a later press conference, confirming that indoor dining in the city will remain on hold until further notice.

Outdoor dining, however, is going full steam ahead. Over 6,600 restaurants across the five boroughs have been certified to offer outdoor seating plans this summer, according to a tracker launched by the city’s Department of Transportation.

The mayor noted that now is the time to “double down” on outdoor dining while indoor dining has been put on pause for the foreseeable future. The city will “wait till we have evidence that we can do it safely,” the mayor said.

Restaurateurs have been disappointed with the last-minute change in plans. “While we understand the health concerns associated with indoor dining, we look forward to working with state and local government to ensure that indoor dining is conducted in accordance with social distancing guidelines and that our customers can have a safe and enjoyable dining experience,” Jeffrey Garcia, the president of the New York State Latino Restaurant, Bar, and Lounge Association, said in a statement.

“As most of our businesses are minority-owned and serving predominately communities of color, we feel it is imperative to keep these communities moving forward and more importantly putting residents in these communities back to work,” Garcia says.

Update, 12:35 p.m.: This post has been updated with additional comments from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Jeffrey Garcia.