Indoor Dining Returns to NYC This Month. Here’s How It Will Work.

Inside Cervo’s, before the pandemic. Photo: Scott Heins

Almost exactly six months after the citywide restaurant shutdown, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that New York City restaurants will soon be able to welcome people back inside. Cuomo announced that indoor dining will return to the five boroughs on September 30, at a reduced capacity of 25 percent, with additional restrictions. “Opening restaurants, I understand the economic benefit and I understand the economic pressure that they’ve been under,” Cuomo said in a press conference today. Later adding, “We’ve been speaking with stakeholders, we’ve been working on this issue everyday.”

Restaurants that do reopen will have to follow rules including temperature checks for all guests, a requirement that one member of every party leaves information for contact tracing, and keep tables six feet apart and ensure guests wear masks whenever they’re not at their table. All restaurants will also have to close at midnight, follow air filtration requirements, and won’t be allowed to offer bar service (i.e., ordering your daiquiri at the bar). Cuomo also says they’ll beef up enforcement, with the state expanding the SLA and State Police Task Force and the city providing 400 code-enforcement inspectors.

Currently, New York City is the only region in the state that hasn’t reopened for indoor dining in some capacity. The city was originally scheduled to reopen for indoor dining back on July 6, but this was postponed indefinitely because of spikes in coronavirus cases around the country, some of which were linked to bars and restaurants. “It is not the time to forge ahead with indoor dining,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said when he announced the postponement. Restaurant and bar operators in New York have been asking the city, all summer, for an indoor-dining plan. Tren’ness Woods-Black of Harlem’s Sylvia’s told Grub, “At this point, I just need to know.”

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