NEW YORK - Roughly 100 restaurant owners in Brooklyn and Staten Island are planning a class-action lawsuit against the city and state, saying that they believe most restaurants will have to close their doors permanently if they aren't able to open for indoor dining in the coming colder months.
"Why are restaurants around the state able to operate at a reduced indoor occupancy while restaurants throughout the five boroughs are currently closed?" asked Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. "Although we have met, sustained, and exceeded all of the health metrics that have allowed restaurants throughout the rest of the state to open."
With fall just around the corner, restaurant owners say they fear that the colder months ahead will sap what business they have been able to recover via indoor dining.
Mayor Bill de Blasio says the major issue is that face coverings would have to come off when people eat and drink indoors, which differs from schools and gyms where masks will have to stay on.
Officials say the city and state's decision to hold off on indoor dining in New York City is also based on recent spikes in cases globally.
"Hong Kong started to have a resurgence directly related to indoor dining and bars and had to close them down," De Blasio said. "We know what an unfortunate nexus they've been for resurgences, we've seen it in Europe lately as well."
But restaurant owners say they aren't buying it.
"When the Mayor says 'We're looking at what's happening in Hong Kong and Europe,' how about we look at what's happening in Long Island and upstate New York? Why are we looking at Hong Kong?" said Tom Casatelli, a restaurant owner.