NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are both on board with a continued ban on indoor dining in New York City and restaurant owners are losing patience.
Cuomo on Monday said coronavirus numbers are coming down following the post-holiday spike and that restrictions could soon be eased in parts of the state, but that does not include the city’s indoor dining ban.
Cuomo has cited the city’s population density in continuing the ban. De Blasio on Tuesday backed the governor’s refusal to allow limited indoor dining to resume in the five boroughs, despite neighboring counties, including Nassau, being allowed to offer indoor dining at 50% capacity.
“Right now, the central focus is health and safety,” de Blasio said. “So at this moment, we obviously still have way too many cases in the city. We have these new variants that we’re watching very carefully. We’re going to be governed by the data and the science. Right now, now the data and the science tells us ‘be careful.'”
Restaurant owners say they’ve had enough, and call the ongoing ban arbitrary.
“It’s insanity at this point,” said Lisa Fernandez, owner of Sweet Chili, a new modern Asian restaurant in Bushwick. “We went from a 52-seat restaurant to an 8-seat restaurant. It’s been very up and down, we really want indoor dining back, which obviously every restaurant does in New York.”
Several lawsuits filed against the state by struggling city restaurant owners point out there’s no scientific evidence that restaurants contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.
Restaurant owners argue that bars and restaurants in the state were the cause of less than 1.5% of COVID-19 cases spread between October and December of last year.
Fernandez is hoping that she’ll get a boost in business during New York City Restaurant Week, which is happening now through Jan. 31.
“I’ve wanted a restaurant since I was 6 and now I’m 40 so I’m not going to give up without a fight,” Fernandez said.
With indoor dining still on hold in the city, de Blasio says it’s still a good time to support your favorite restaurant, despite the winter weather.
“I have done outdoor dining in this kind of temperature and not a problem at all for me,” de Blasio said. “This is perfectly good weather and there’s a lot of great outdoor dining setups that have really kept people real warm and safe. They’ve done great. So I encourage everyone have a winter adventure tonight.”
The forecast for Tuesday evening calls for rain, sleet and snow with accumulations of up to 3 inches possible. Temperatures will be in the low 30s.