NYC restaurants say ban on indoor dining is misguided

Hassan Elgarrahy, the co-owner Bar Italia Restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, is outraged that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is not lifting the restrictions on indoor dining in the city anytime soon.

"It is devastating. We are on life support. We've been on life support for a whole year," Elgarrahy said. "It is very difficult when you see other cities and other states that have not followed these harsh restrictions and yet they are thriving."

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the governor are on the same page when it comes to prohibiting indoor dining.

"At this moment we have obviously too many cases in the city and there are the new variants that we are watching closely," de Blasio said.

But restaurant industry leaders say it just doesn't make any sense.

"According to the state's data, only 1.4% of infection is coming from restaurants while 75% is coming from private social gatherings," NYC Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Rigie said. 

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Both the governor and mayor maintain that New York City is unique because it was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring and because of its density.

"If it's an issue of density then why is New York City here with lower infection rates than places that are less dense that have higher hospitalization rates and higher rates of infection?" Rigie said. 

The Super Bowl is in two weeks. If people want to eat and watch the game outside, they would have to leave a restaurant by the 10 p.m. closing time before the game is even over.

"What are people going to do? They're going to quickly at 9:55 run back to their apartments together and gather inside, which is less safe than being in a regulated environment at a restaurant," Rigie said. "At a minimum, we should at least allow restaurants to stay open until midnight."