NEW YORK - The indoor dining ban took effect Monday and is expected to continue for at least two weeks. Gov. Andrew Cuomo pointed to COVID-related hospitalizations continuing to climb behind his decision and warned of possible more restrictions.
The clampdown, announced last week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is a severe blow to a struggling industry that has made the city a culinary capital. New York City is home to roughly 24,000 restaurants, and owners warned of layoffs and closures if they are limited to takeout orders and outdoor dining this winter.
Just last week, the 21 Club in Midtown Manhattan, a favorite of the power elite for almost a century, announced it was closing indefinitely due to the pandemic.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday he sympathized with restaurant owners and workers, but noted the rising number of cases and hospitalizations. More than 1,700 patients were hospitalized in the city this weekend with COVID-19 infections, almost triple the number a month ago.
“We’ve got to bring this industry back. We’ve got to bring back the restaurants we love. But it’s going to take time, and meantime we’ve got to stay safe because this second wave is very, very real,” de Blasio said during his press briefing.
Outdoor dining and takeout operations will be allowed to continue in the city.
On Friday, Cuomo said there were 1,668 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the city, up from 1,578 announced a day earlier. The indoor dining banning was part of an effort, said Cuomo, to stop the spread of the virus and, in turn, not overwhelm the city's hospital system.
Restaurant owners were given the go-ahead to allow people back in at 25 percent occupancy, along with other restrictions including temperature checks, masks being worn when not seated, tables located six feet away from each other and diners providing information for contact tracing.
Get breaking news alerts in the FOX5NY News app. Download for FREE!
The surging cases are stressing hospitals in the state ahead of what could be a brutal holiday season. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top authority on infectious diseases, has warned that the United States is likely to see a large spike in cases in January because of Americans gathering for the holidays. He has been calling this nightmare scenario a "surge upon a surge."