NYC Closed to Indoor Dining as Hospitals Teem With Virus-Stricken

This screenshot from a livestreamed press conference shows New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing on Friday that New York City must cease indoor dining to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Image via Courthouse News)

ALBANY, N.Y. (CN) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that there will be no more indoor dining in New York City starting Monday due to an uptick in Covid-19 cases. 

“Hospitalizations have not stabilized, and with a rising infection rate and NYC’s density, this means that indoor dining is too high of a risk.,” Cuomo tweeted Friday.

The state has 5,321 hospitalizations as of today and an infection rate of nearly 5%. As for the city, the hospitalization rate is nearly 2.5%, which is over its threshold of 2%. 

Indoor dining in the city closed back in the spring and reopened in September when the city was consistently staying below a 3% infection rate. Today, however, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said the infection rate has gone over 5%.

Ahead of the announcement de Blasio said he would support Cuomo if the decision was made to shut down indoor dining, despite the hardship it would inflict on the restaurants.

“I feel tremendous empathy for restaurant owners. A lot of them are mom-and-pop businesses that put their lifetime into them. We want them to survive. We need them to survive,” said de Blasio during a Friday press conference. “The virus just grows and grows; more and more people get infected; our hospitals start to get stressed and then get to the point where they can’t provide the service that people need. That puts lives in danger. I guarantee you, if that keeps happening, then it’s going to be a lot longer before we’re able to recover economically.” 

Still other officials say the numbers aren’t adding up to justify a shutdown.

“While public health and safety must be paramount, Governor Cuomo’s announcement to once again shut down indoor dining in New York City is at odds with the state’s own data that’s been presented as driving these decisions, and it will be the last straw for countless more restaurants and jobs,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, in a statement.

While 74% of the spread takes place in people’s homes, less than 2% of recent spread is attributable to restaurants and bars.

Rigie does agree with Cuomo that the federal government needs to implement a stimulus bill to help struggling restaurants and businesses. 

“Closing indoor dining in New York City will severely jeopardize the survival of countless small businesses and jobs and now it’s more important than ever that all levels of government pass critical support to help save the industry,” said Rigie in a statement. 

Tables are spaced to allow for proper social distancing as customers enjoy lunch indoors at Katz’s Delicatessen in New York on Sept. 30. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Cuomo also announced Friday that the state would be extending the commercial eviction moratorium, which does not allow for businesses to be evicted if they cannot pay rent.

Outdoor dining and takeout may stay open. 

Another big announcement Friday by the governor is the state’s independent Covid-19 clinical advisory task force would approve the Food and Drug Administration’s decision on the Pfizer vaccine, which the FDA approved Friday morning. 

This means that the state will be getting 170,000 doses this weekend. On top of that, Cuomo said that the state will be receiving 346,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by the week of Dec. 21.

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