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Cuomo: NYC Indoor Dining Hinges on Better Enforcement of Social-Distancing Violations

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Mayor Bill de Blasio said yesterday that the city would issue a decision on indoor dining sometime in September

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wears a mask while holding a briefing in New York
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a conference call this morning that he wants to allow city restaurants to re-open for indoor dining, but questioned whether the five boroughs would be able to sufficiently enforce social-distancing guidelines, NBC New York reports.

During the call Cuomo announced that malls like Hudson Yards would finally be able to open, starting on September 9, but only at fifty percent capacity, and with no indoor dining, according to NBC. Cuomo’s comments come a day after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would issue a decision on indoor dining sometime in September.

On Friday, New Jersey will allow restaurants to open indoors at 25 percent capacity.

“My opinion is restaurants should open. The question is how,” Cuomo reportedly said.

Or as NBC put it:

It’s one thing to have a plan, Cuomo said. It’s another to be able to enforce it. Until he feels New York City can do that appropriately — meaning involving thousands of NYPD officers instead of just sheriff deputies in the effort — he may keep indoor dining off the table, even though he says he wants them open himself.

Cuomo told Mayor Bill de Blasio that he’d have to improve enforcement and recommended that City Council speaker Corey Johnson assemble a task force to perform restaurant compliance checks, NY1 reported.

“We have major problems in New York City with the compliance on the bars,” Cuomo said, according to NY1.

De Blasio said yesterday that any decision to reopen restaurants would likely come separately from a decision over whether to let indoor nightclubs and bars begin to operate again.

Both Cuomo and de Blasio have expressed concern in the past over links between indoor dining and COVID-19 infections. Cuomo has specifically cited the city’s population and density as a point of concern.

New York City bars and restaurants were forced to shutter traditional indoor sit-down service on March 16, nearly six months ago. Socially distanced outdoor dining in the five boroughs began near the end of June as infections began to recede.

Indoor dining is currently permitted in all areas of the state except for the city at 50 percent capacity.