Governor Andrew Cuomo said today at his press briefing that restaurants and bars in New York City may need to close again when outdoor patios and dining is not possible as the weather turns colder this fall. This is for the establishments that have been able to utilize outdoor dining spaces which is not an option for many.
With tourism dried up and many city employees still largely working remote, certain areas have been hit harder than others, especially in Midtown. The New York Times did a profile on plight of restaurants and Michael Weinstein who operated 20 locations before COVID-19 hit said, “he will never open another restaurant in New York”. He noted that the prices of New York does not outweigh the marketing benefits for the brand and would rather focus on his locations in Florida.
The city was already struggling as indoor dining is still not allowed compared to other parts of the state after being the center of the epidemic back in March. Since that time, New York has boasted a positivity rate less than 1% over the last 12 days. The site rt.live tracks Rt, a measure that tracks how fast the virus is spreading and a number less than 1 indicates a slowing of COVID-19. Currently New York is at .96 compared to its high in February at 3.78.
Part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s issue with bars and restaurants is compliance with social distancing and capacity restrictions. Announcements regarding opening museums and gyms have been released but the hospitality industry is still unsure which metrics will determine when they will be allowed to reopen indoor dining.
COVID is NOT over.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 19, 2020
At best it’s half time.
You don’t call it a win at half time no matter the score.
CNBC reports that over 150 bars have had their license suspended over violations and fines can be issued up to $10,000. In addition, there has been a stricter view on what constitutes food, a requirement for serving alcohol. Before there was 'Cuomo chips" being sold for $1 many places to accompany their adult beverages. However, now New York requires more substatial offerings like chicken wings or hot dogs.
For so long, New York was the mecca for culinary and hospitlaity the world looked to for inspiration. Now it is a representation of the struggle so many other operators are facing across the country, a sobering tale that we are still in the early rounds of this fight.