NEW YORK - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that he was delaying the planned resumption of indoor dining at restaurants in the city out of fear it would cause a spike in coronavirus infections.
The mayor, a Democrat, said he was concerned that if the city welcomed diners back into the enclosed spaces of its restaurants, it might experience the same surge in illness now being seen in other states.
“Honestly, even a week ago, honestly, I was hopeful we could. But the news we have gotten from around the country gets worse and worse all the time,” De Blasio said.
Outdoor dining at restaurants, which started about two weeks ago, can continue, de Blasio said.
The decision has frustrated some of the city's restaurants, who say they relied heavily on indoor dining for business and with limited sidewalk space, outdoor dining simply isn’t providing enough business to make ends meet.
The New York City Hospitality Alliance responded to the announcement, saying that while it respects the decision to put public health first, "...the longer neighborhood restaurants and bars are forced to be closed, the harder it will be for them to ever successfully reopen. This makes it even more urgent to forgive rent, expand outdoor dining and enact other responsive policies to save our city’s beloved small businesses and jobs.”
New York City is in the second phase of its reopening plan and is expected to get approval to go to a third phase on July 6.
Under the current rules, large gatherings of people are still banned, but retail stores have been allowed to welcome customers back inside and offices have reopened to workers with some social distancing rules in place.
The city and state will be working together to figure out the right moment for indoor dining, but in the meantime, the city says it will double down on its initiative to support outdoor dining by closing off some streets to traffic in the coming weeks.