New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Friday that he will shut down indoor dining yet again starting on Monday due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and the increase in hospitalization, a major setback for New York City’s economic recovery and struggling restaurateurs amid the coronavirus pandemic.
During a virtual press briefing, Cuomo in a long rant showcased using his PowerPoint presentation to explain he is now tweaking his COVID combat plan based on the Big Apple’s coronavirus-related hospitalization rate has been dramatically increasing over the last two weeks.
His decision to pump the brakes on indoor dining contracts the state’s own contact tracing data released on Friday that shows restaurants and bars traced accounts for just 1.43 percent of recent known COVID-19 exposures. But Cuomo said the current rate of transmission in a place as dense as New York City justifies his stricter approach.
“The crowding is a problem. CDC last week did a caution on indoor dining. In New York City, you put the CDC caution on indoor dining together with the rate of transmission and the density and the crowding, that is a bad situation. The hospitalizations have continued to increase in New York City,” Cuomo said, who earlier this week warned that if New York region’s hospitalization rate has not stabilized after five days, indoor dining will be closed or reduced in that region.
“We said that we would watch it. If the hospital rate didn’t stabilize, we would close indoor dining. It has not. We’re going to close indoor dining in New York City on Monday,” Cuomo added.
State data shows that New York City’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased by 506 from Nov. 27 at 1,072 patients to Wednesday at 1,578 patients.
However, based on 46,000 coronavirus cases across the state from September and November, shows data from private household gatherings link to the primary driver in the spread of infections at 74 percent.
Indoor dining in New York City have been operating at 25 percent capacity since it was permitted to resume back on Sept. 30 after a six-month shut down due to the coronavirus crisis. Elsewhere in the rest of the state, indoor dining are been operating at 50 percent capacity.
Cuomo said indoor dining data across the rest of the state will be assessed over the weekend to see whether any other restrictions need to be implemented elsewhere.
State officials will reevaluate whether to resume indoor dining based on COVID-19 trends over the next two weeks.
“Outside of New York City and in the orange zones we’re going to watch the indoor dining data. The numbers are down in the chart, but we’re going to watch over this weekend and we’ll make any adjustments next week if the data suggests,” Cuomo said.
The Governor acknowledged that the indoor dining restriction in New York City will cause “economic hardship” for struggling eateries and bars.
“Yes, there will be economic hardship – the 25 percent to 0 percent [capacity], but we have compensated in other ways,” Cuomo said, trying to explain how some places are able to utilize outdoor dining in New York City and are “aggressively expanded.”
Cuomo noted that he believes the federal government “must provide relief to bars and restaurants in this next [stimulus] package” to compensate for his reasoning to ban indoor dining.
Mayor Bill de Blasio in a tweet called the decision “painful,” but applauded his arch-nemesis call and saying he “fully support” it.
“As Covid-19 indicators continue to rise, it’s time to shut down indoor dining. This is painful. So many restaurants are struggling. But we can’t allow this virus to reassert itself in our city,” the mayor tweeted. “I fully support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision. Together we’ll fight back this second wave.”
As #COVID19 indicators continue to rise, it’s time to shut down indoor dining. This is painful. So many restaurants are struggling. But we can’t allow this virus to reassert itself in our city.— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) December 11, 2020
I fully support @NYGovCuomo‘s decision. Together we’ll fight back this second wave. https://t.co/NWY9xmjGdh
But the city’s reeling restaurant industry said the New York Governor was ignoring his own data in making a decision that could shutter the city eateries during what is considered normally one of their busiest times during the year. The New York Restaurant Association recently put out a survey that finds 54% of restaurants won’t survive the next six months without some form of federal relief.
Melissa Fleischut, the president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, said the ban “makes little sense based on the state’s own numbers, and to make matters worse, we are offered no plan for survival to get through this shutdown.”
“Restaurants have done their part, and the state’s own numbers reflect this fact,” Fleischut said, adding, ‘This action will inevitably result in massive layoffs and vast closures right before the holidays. This action is unfair and devastating.”
New York City politicians blasted Cuomo’s indoor dining decision.
“Hard to follow why a restaurant in Manhattan would be shut down when they aren’t causing the spread and while the cases and rates in other counties are far higher,” New York City Councilman Joe Borelli (R-SI) said. “But all of this has been hard to follow.”
Congresswoman-elect Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) said the move will force the closure of cash-strapped eateries.
“With the cold weather, they simply won’t be able to survive on outdoor dining and take-out,” Malliotakis said in series of tweets slamming Cuomo’s decision.