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Indoor Dining Will Return to NYC on September 30

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Restaurants will reopen at 25 percent capacity, with 50 percent capacity in November

A black and white photo of an empty restaurant, with several tables-of-four
An empty restaurant
Gary He/Eater

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will finally allow indoor dining in New York City starting September 30, six months after the COVID-19 shutdown devastated the city’s hospitality industry and left hundreds of thousands of local bar and restaurant workers without a job.

Expanded outdoor dining has been permitted in the city since late June, but owners and operators had been pushing the city to allow the resumption of indoor dining as the weather turns cooler.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio later added that the city would reconsider the return to indoor dining if the city hits two percent positive rates for COVID-19. New York has seen the infection rate remain below one percent for a month now.

Close to 1,000 bars and restaurants have shuttered since the beginning of the pandemic, including including a number of high profile or beloved venues like TAK Room at Hudson Yards, Uncle Boons, the Banty Rooster, China Blue, and Chinatown’s Hop Shing. Just under 163,000 city food and beverage staffers remained unemployed by the end of July, and scores of establishments have already announced extensions of worker furloughs past the six-month mark. Many restaurants have cited the uncertainty around the return of indoor dining as a reason for closure.

Here are some of the early details on how indoor dining will look:

  • Restaurants will be able to reopen at 25 percent capacity, which is half of the 50 percent capacity everywhere else in the state except for NYC.
  • Masks must be worn at all times except when sitting at a table.
  • Temperature checks will be required for anyone who enters the restaurant.
  • Patrons will not be allowed to sit at the bar.
  • One member of each dining party will have to leave their information with the restaurant for contact tracers to reach out in the instance that there’s a COVID-19 case.
  • Restaurants will be required to have enhanced filtration systems installed, though Cuomo did not immediately clarify what this entailed.
  • Tables will need to be six feet apart.
  • All restaurants will have to close at midnight.
  • Every restaurant will be required to post its full capacity outside and provide a phone number to report social distancing violations, either via voice or text.
  • Cuomo has presently set November 1 as the deadline for New York City to offer indoor dining at half capacity. That will be determined based on health metrics at that time. If infection rates continue to remain low the capacity could be raised before November.
  • For enforcement, New York will expand the State Liquor Authority and state police task force. The city will “ultimately” contribute 400 additional code enforcement inspectors, according to Cuomo.

This is a developing story and will be updated

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