Governor Cuomo has finally agreed to start indoor dining in New York City. The conditions are strict, at only 25% occupancy limit, and will start on September 30. Each booking will have to register a contact person for tracing if needed. There will be no service after midnight or at the bar.
The state is setting up a hotline for locals to report restaurants that don't follow the new guidelines. Cuomo warned that he can cancel indoor dining at any time, especially if the infection rate goes up.
Hell's Kitchen business owners' reaction was mixed.
"Fat chance," said chef Charlie Marshall of The Marshal. "Great. So I have to install a new ventilation system to seat 10 people."
Socrates Nana of Empanada Mama told us: "Better late than never, and better safe than sorry."
Jim Lahey from Sullivan Street Bakery appealed for more financial support: "High time but what about a stipends like a new PPP for operators to cover shortfalls?"
"After weeks of working alongside City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Borough President Gale Brewer to fight for the livelihoods of thousands of New Yorkers and their small businesses, I’m thrilled to hear that restaurants can open indoors at limited capacity," said Holly-Anne Devlin from Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Action Committee. "Restaurant owners deserved this opportunity over a month ago, when New York City’s infection rate was marked as one of the lowest in the country. Small businesses in New York City have been decimated not only by the virus, but the lack of willingness for our state and city government to work together as a progressive team. I hope that the Governor and Mayor are able to put politics aside and move together as a united front. "
Mandy Oser from Ardesia Wine Bar told us: "We are excited to be getting to take the next step forward as our city continues to recover."
"My initial reaction is excitement with a tiny hint of relief. We are still waiting on further details involving the 'strict restrictions' to really have a better understanding," said Dominick Costa, manager at Treadwell Park. "Does the staff count towards the 25%? Are partitions still an alternative to table distance? We don’t have all of the details yet, but I am personally excited that the officials are finally phasing in indoor dining."
"Looking at the positive, it’s a start," said Sean Hayden, owner/partner at Jasper's Taphouse and Kitchen, and four other bars including McCoy's, Dalton's, and Valerie in Midtown. "It's a smart move on Cuomo’s part. It gives him four weeks to see if it spikes and if we adhere to guidelines before outside seating ends. But it’s impossible to break even on these guidelines. The rent, insurance, payroll, water and sewer, and real estate taxes remain the same, and most places in the city can hold 40 people tops."
UPDATE: We will update this story as we receive more reactions locally. What do you think of the restaurants opening for indoor dining. Comment below, or email me at email@example.com.