NEW YORK - Indoor dining resumed in New York City on Wednesday, after state and local officials had stopped restaurants from serving customers inside in March during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, with the city's overall number of COVID cases remaining relatively low, 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.
There is also no bar seating, and restaurants must close at midnight.
The Boqueria restaurant on Second Avenue on the Upper East Side is busy with takeout orders but now all the tables are finally set for customers to come inside and have a seat for the first time in more than six months.
Owner Yann de Rochefort decided not to install plexiglass because of the current level of occupancy.
"The occupancy is low enough that we can keep greater than six feet distance between tables," he said.
De Rochefort is not removing any of the tables.
"We didn't want the restaurant to feel empty," he said. "We didn't want to take out furniture and we also wanted to make sure that you didn't feel like you were eating in the hospital cafeteria."
So instead, tables with plants on them are off-limits to keep people at least six feet apart.
Boqueria has also installed hospital-grade air filters.
De Rochefort has four locations in the city with about 250 employees. All of them have to fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire every day before reporting to work.
"We take their temperature. They take off whatever mask they were wearing outside," he said. "Put on a new mask. Put on gloves and get to work. We really want to get this right on every level."
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