NYC Goes Off Menu, Keeping Bar on Indoor Dining

Candace Sanders, right, sits behind a plastic curtain while getting a pedicure at HT&V Nails in Harlem on July 6, 2020, as New York City moved into Phase 3 of its coronavirus reopening plan with the reintroduction of nail salons and dog runs. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

MANHATTAN (CN) — Announcing a more limited final phase of the state’s reopening plan, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that indoor dining, malls and museums are still considered too risky.

In the other nine regions of the state, indoor dining has been operating at 50% capacity as part of Phase 3, but New York City — slated Monday to be the last region in the state to move to Phase 4 — is sticking with outdoor dining at the moment. 

De Blasio said Friday said that the city’s version of Phase 4 will include various forms of outdoor entertainment, including letting small crowds go to the zoo and professional sports teams playing in empty arenas.

“We’re going to restart the low-risk outdoor, arts and entertainment activities,” de Blasio said. “This means things like Botanical Gardens and zoos for example they can reopen but at reduced capacity — 33% capacity.” 

Production of movies and TV shows can resume as part of Phase 4 as well. 

“We’ll get to watch it on television,” de Blasio said. “It’s going to be a great relief to all of us.” 

Governor Andrew Cuomo has not yet signed off on the plan, which keeps indoor museums, malls and dining all closed for now.

“Outdoors looks very good. Indoors is where we have concerns,” de Blasio said. 

Earlier this week, Cuomo announced new regulations for bars and restaurants in New York City to ensure they are complying with social-distancing and face-covering orders. 

As its name suggests, the “Three Strikes and You’re Closed” initiative will suspend the operation of any establishment that receives three violations. Even before the third strike, however, violations could result in the loss of a liquor license and closure. 

Meanwhile, infections nationwide continue to rise with more than 75,000 new cases as of Thursday. It’s the 11th time a single day record has been broken. The country’s seven-day average exceeded 63,000 that twice as many as in April.

Under the reopening guidelines, Cuomo will not even consider school districts reopening plans in regions that fail to maintain a daily infection rate of 5% or lower over a 14-day rolling average. Most plans are expected to involve a mix of in-person and remote learning to start the school year in September. 

New York City’s current seven-day rolling average is 1%, a far cry from the 59% positivity rate it was seeing in April at the peak of the outbreak.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio dines with his wife, Chirlane McCray, in an outdoor booth at Melba’s restaurant in Harlem on June 22, the first day of the Phase 2 reopening of the city, which saw the start of al fresco restaurant options during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The rest of the state’s regions have maintained seven-day rolling averages around 1% through their transitions into Phase 4.

New York City is behind the rest of the state when it comes to reopening, and Phase 4 is also tied to school reopenings for the fall.  

Cuomo emphasized that New York’s numbers are so much better than those seen in other parts of the country because of the early and decisive actions that were taken.

“Mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing — basic as they may seem — are critical to controlling the spread of this virus,” Cuomo said. “Especially now that we are seeing spikes in cases throughout the country, this is not the time to let up — especially on compliance enforcement. We know the prescription and we know it works — we just need to be smart and do it.”

There’s concern about out-of-state travelers increasing New York City’s infection rate. 

Cuomo has ordered that out-of-state travelers from the 22 designated states with the highest infection rates must provide local authorities with contact information upon entering New York to help enforce quarantining. Those who do not supply such information will face a fine of up to $2,000.

Mayor de Blasio said his faith is in the science.

“There can’t be a slippery slope there,” the mayor said.

The city began Phase 3 on July 6, after spending a little over two weeks in Phase 2.

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