UPDATE: Oct. 6, 2020: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press briefing Monday afternoon that the city will shut down restaurants for indoor and outdoor dining in nine neighborhoods on Wednesday, contradicting an earlier Monday press briefing by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, The Wall Street Journal reports. Cuomo said that he would not close nonessential businesses as de Blasio had requested, and called for a more thorough review of neighborhood data and more enforcement of public safety measures at businesses. But de Blasio is moving forward without state approval.
"Until there is a different plan, we are prepared to implement this plan," de Blasio said regarding new restrictions for businesses in select Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods. "If the state comes back with a modification, we will follow that modification."
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press briefing on Sunday that he will ask the state of New York to shut down restaurants, along with schools and nonessential businesses, in nine ZIP codes throughout Brooklyn and Queens. With state approval, de Blasio hopes to begin enforcing these shut downs on Wednesday. Both indoor and outdoor dining would be closed, but delivery and pickup would still be available.
- The nine New York City neighborhoods in question have had a coronavirus infection rate of 3% or higher for seven consecutive days or more, de Blasio said. Eleven additional New York City ZIP codes that are close to reaching this infection rate are poised for indoor dining closures beginning on Wednesday as well pending state approval, de Blasio said.
- These impending restaurant closures would come just a week after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo allowed indoor dining to resume at 25% capacity in New York City with temperature checks for diners upon arrival and collection of contact tracing information. Closures in the neighborhoods outlined by de Blasio could cripple local restaurant progress, as 87% of respondents to New York Hospitality's August Rent Report couldn't pay full rent when outdoor dining was permitted.
The pendulum swing of dining room openings and subsequent closures when viral infection rates climb too high has been devastating for restaurant markets across the country. Restaurants are operating on a knife's edge as their Paycheck Protection Program loans run out, fixed operating costs remain high and municipalities roll out new guidance for how to serve diners safely. Complete closures of indoor and outdoor dining, even if just for a few weeks, could be a death knell for area businesses.
Over 63% of New York restaurants have already reported that they are likely to close by the end of the year if they don't receive government assistance tailored for their industry, according to a survey by the New York State Restaurant Association. The New York restaurant scene, which has the most restaurants per capita in the country, is one of the markets hardest hit by pandemic disruption. More than 33,000 people have died from coronavirus in the state since March, according to Johns Hopkins University data, and prior to Sept. 30 indoor dining had been banned since July following an increase in national virus cases, according to The New York Times.
"Today, unfortunately, is not a day for celebration," de Blasio said during the press briefing. "What has become clear is that there are a number of neighborhoods now that have continued to have a high level of coronavirus positivity and it requires stronger action than we've had to take for many months."
This announcement comes after independent restaurants across the country urged Senate lawmakers to approve a proposed $120 billion restaurant relief package that is part of the House's Heroes Act. The revised $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed the House on Thursday, and though 40 senators have voiced support for the initiative, some fear the measure won't be approved. The Senate announced Saturday that it will take a recess until Oct. 19 after three Republican lawmakers tested positive for coronavirus.