Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday that indoor dining at New York City restaurants will be banned again in an effort to curb spiking coronavirus levels across the state, where hospitals are running out of space for the sick. Cuomo’s order will be a massive setback for the city’s restaurants, which were already struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic, if they hadn’t already gone out of business. The ban takes effect on Monday.
Indoor dining at restaurants and bars ranks fifth among the drivers of infection in New York State, Cuomo said Friday, and “contact tracing data showed that 1.43 percent of 46,000 cases between September and November could be linked to restaurants and bars,” the New York Times reports.
New York City restaurants only just resumed indoor dining at the end of September, much later than the rest of the country, a reopening measure crucial for the industry ahead of winter. Now, with no federal or state financial aid in sight and dropping temperatures that make eating outside less than enticing for customers, the already-collapsing industry may have passed the point of no return. “Another forced government closure of New York City restaurants will cause irreversible harm on countless more small businesses and the hundreds of thousands of workers they employ, especially if it is not coupled with financial relief,” Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement on Monday.