Lack of indoor dining plan from de Blasio leaving NYC restaurants starving

Outdoor dining on Mott Street on Aug. 12. (Photo by Mark Hallum)
Photo by Mark Hallum

While restaurants continue to struggle amid the backdrop of a global pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday there may not be relief in sight for those in need of indoor business out of fears of a possible resurgence of COVID-19 citing precedent abroad.

As de Blasio has given in to outside pressure to allow gyms to open up Sept. 2 – provided they meet state guidelines – the mayor says he will not consider allowing restaurants to seat anywhere other than on sidewalks and curb space for the foreseeable future.

“Indoor dining, there’s not a plan right now, de Blasio said in his Aug. 21 interview with Brian Lehrer on WNYC radio. “There’s not a context for indoor dining. We’re never saying it’s impossible. But we do not, based on what we’ve seen around the world, we do not have a plan for reopening indoor dining in the near term. And in fact, the example that Dr. Jay Varma, my senior health advisor gave to the media this week, Hong Kong started to have a resurgence directly related to indoor dining and bars. And have to close them down. We know what an unfortunate nexus they’ve been for resurgences.”

But the NYC Hospitality Alliance says business owners are facing a perfect storm some form of relief needs to be taken into consideration.

Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, called on the mayor to provide a clear guidebook as to how or when restaurants and their patrons will be able to party like its 2019 all over again.

“These small businesses are facing the worst combination of crises in our lifetime, and it’s absolutely critical to their survival that government provide a clear plan on how and when they will be able to reopen their restaurants and rehire employees. In the meantime, we need to get these restaurant owners rent relief,” Rigie told amNewYork Metro in a statement Sunday.
Bars and restaurants face another challenge; the iron hand of the State Liquor Authority, under orders from Governor Andrew Cuomo and city Sheriff’s office issuing violations and permit revocations to businesses operating out of compliance with COVID-19 restrictions.
“Since Aug. 11, 31 establishments in my district have experienced harassment and threats by undercover agents, members of a task force, the State Sheriffs, and the Departments of Transportation and Environmental Protection,” state Senator Jessica Ramos said of the enforcement in her northwest Queesn district at an Aug. 19 press conference in Harlem. “What’s worse is many of these businesses are majority-owned by the same working-class immigrant communities that have been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. When compared to other neighborhoods and boroughs, this blatant disparity shows the willingness by our elected [officials] to ignore the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.” 
Much of the zero tolerance enforcement implemented by Cuomo comes from public outcry that some of streets in the city are becoming party zones that disregard mask and social distancing policies.

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