NYC Indoor Dining May Resume Sept 30 With Strict Restrictions, Cuomo Says

Bar service not allowed, city to provide 400 staff to enforce rules
September 10, 2020 Updated: September 10, 2020

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that indoor dining can resume in New York City starting Sept. 30 with a 25 percent occupancy limit, among a slew of other restrictions and requirements amid the ongoing CCP virus pandemic.

The city government will also have to provide a team of 400 staff to work with the State Police Task Force to ensure compliance to the list of rules. The strict guidance will be reassessed by Nov. 1 to see whether it can allow up to 50 percent capacity in the city’s restaurants.

New York City is the only Tri-State area that still has a ban on indoor dining.

“I want to thank New Yorkers for their hard work to increase compliance, and we can now take the next step in reopening our restaurants,” Cuomo said in a statement on Sept. 9 (pdf).

“This is good news and the right step forward, especially for restaurant owners and staff who have been struggling through this time. But it is up to all of us to ensure compliance and the health and safety of those around us.”

New York Governor Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York in New York City on July 23, 2020. (Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)

The new requirements for New York restaurants providing indoor dining include:

  • 25 percent occupancy limit
  • Temperature checks will be required at the door for all customers
  • One member of each party will be required to provide contact information for tracing if needed
  • No bar service—bars will only be used as a source of making drinks and serving them tableside
  • Masks must be worn at all times when not seated at a table
  • Tables must be six feet apart
  • Restaurants close at midnight
  • Restaurants should operate with enhanced air filtration, ventilation, and purification standards
  • Limit air recirculation and allow for outside air ventilation

New York State also said it is developing a “COVID-SAFE restaurant standard” on safety and sanitation practices at restaurants.

Cuomo on Wednesday said that the state has seen a 1 percent infection rate for the past 33 days.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a statement on Sept. 9 saying that if the city sees a 2 percent COVID-19 positivity rates, it will “immediately reassess.”

“We are continuing New York City’s economic recovery by bringing back indoor dining. Working with the state and public health officials, we’ve achieved a plan that puts health and safety first by including strict capacity limits, a close monitoring of citywide positive testing rates and a coordinated inspection regimen,” he said.

“Science will guide our decision-making as we continue to monitor progress and health care indicators over the next three weeks to ensure a safe reopening. This may not look like the indoor dining that we all know and love, but it is progress for restaurant workers and all New Yorkers.”

New York City Restaurants
A table stands empty at a permanently closed restaurant in Manhattan in New York City on Aug. 31, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Cuomo’s announcement comes after a group of some 100 restaurant owners from Brooklyn and Staten Island filed a $2 billion class-action lawsuit (pdf) against him and de Blasio on Aug. 28 over their continued indoor dining ban.

The city was set to allow limited indoor dining in early July but the move was put on hold citing concerns that other areas in the country that had previously loosened restrictions had seen increases in cases of CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus.

“[S]tates across the country that previously reopened indoor dining are experiencing upticks in COVID-19 cases,” Cuomo’s office announced on July 1. He said at the time, “We are going to postpone phase three indoor dining for New York City until the facts change and it is prudent to open. At this point, it isn’t prudent. This is a New York City-only modification because frankly it’s a problem that is most pronounced in New York City.”

“All the numbers are good across the state, but we need to be diligent and cautious especially now that we are seeing the storm clouds from other states on the horizon. Otherwise we will see the rate of infection go up in New York and no one wants to go back to the hell that we experienced.”

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