NYC dining rooms are opening up today for the first time in more than six months, but Mayor Bill de Blasio won’t be joining indoor diners right away. At a press conference on Wednesday, the mayor said that he will continue to eat outside for the “foreseeable future” and “enjoy outdoor dining first while the weather is good.”
“I’ll shift to indoor when outdoor isn’t as prevalent due to the weather,” de Blasio added.
The New York City mayor later clarified that he wasn’t opposed to dining indoors right now, but he would rather eat at the city’s outdoor dining setups. “I personally prefer outdoor dining,” de Blasio said.
The comments come on the heels of some diners in the city voicing concerns in the week leading up to indoor dining about whether or not the move inside is safe for public health. Last month, both the mayor and the governor expressed skepticism over whether indoor dining could be conducted safely in the city.
“It is very important for us to think both about the health of people who are going to restaurants but also the people who are working in them,” NYC’s health commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said at the press conference on Wednesday. “The many layers of safety that are part of the inspections and enforcement that we are doing are critical to safeguard that health.”
He listed the capacity restrictions, symptom screening for employees and diners, and cleaning logs as examples of those safety measures. “All of these things taken together will help reduce the risk,” Dr. Chokshi added.
Yesterday, the city reported significant upticks in COVID-19 cases for the first time in over a month. De Blasio said that inspectors would be out in full force today to ensure that indoor dining protocols were being followed, especially in the neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens that have seen recent increases in positive COVID-19 tests.
“There is going to be a very rigorous inspection effort in those zip codes,” de Blasio said. “We’ll be looking carefully to make sure restaurants are following these rules.”
All restaurants reopening for indoor dining are required to limit seating to 25 percent capacity, take customers’ temperatures at the door, and record contact information from one person in each dining party for contact tracing efforts, among other regulations.
In a move similar to the city’s enforcement of outdoor dining regulations, de Blasio said violations of the regulations will lead to “immediate summonses.”