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De Blasio Refuses to Give Timeline for Return to Indoor Dining in NYC

Many restaurant owners are demanding the city release a plan for a return to indoor dining, but the Mayor has been reluctant to share details

Mayor De Blasio Announces City Dropping Stop-And-Frisk Appeal
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that there’s currently no timeline for a return to indoor dining in NYC
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a press conference Thursday that the city didn’t currently have a set timeline for a return to indoor dining. The response was prompted by a reporter’s question about it at the press conference, and follows a presser held by local restaurant owners and the NYC Hospitality Alliance yesterday where restaurateurs demanded the city release an indoor dining plan.

“We are looking at it everyday, but we have to see a lot more improvement before we consider it,” de Blasio said at his press conference. “There is no timeline.”

The mayor pointed to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong that are suspected to be tied to dining-in at restaurants, and also pointed to the surge in coronavirus cases across the country last month after the early reopening of restaurants and bars. Many establishments have been forced to re-shutter because of the spike.

Still, New York City is now the only place in the state that does not have indoor dining. The rest of the state has allowed restaurants to reopen indoor spaces at half capacity since the middle of June, and NYC was set to resume indoor dining on July 6, before it was indefinitely postponed.

On Wednesday’s Hospitality Alliance call, restaurant owners pointed to the city’s current low infection rate, and the fact that there hasn’t been a spike in cases statewide following the return to indoor dining, as reasons to announce a plan. Restaurateurs say many more restaurants could close in the coming weeks without the revenue boost from indoor dining.

Yet, the mayor and governor remain skeptical, in large part due to the density and population of New York City.

“They’re different demographically, they’re different by population, they’re different by density, they’re different by crowding factor,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference Wednesday referring to comparisons being made between the city and more suburban areas like Westchester County and Nassau County.

Cuomo also pointed to the fact that more than 100 restaurants and bars in the city had been cited for social distancing violations in the past month — and many have had their liquor licenses suspended — as a reason for more caution.