Anyone dreaming of eating inside a New York City restaurant is doing just that, according to Democratic NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.
DeBlasio was asked about reopening restaurants for in-person dining during a Friday appearance on the “Ask the Mayor” segment of the WNYC program “The Brian Lehrer Show.”
“Indoor dining, there’s not a plan right now. There’s not a context for indoor dining,” de Blasio said.
“We’re never saying it’s impossible, but we do not — based on what we’ve seen around the world — we do not have a plan for reopening indoor dining in the near term.”
The mayor claimed New York City is learning from the experiences of other places.
“In fact, the example that Dr. Jay Varma, my senior health adviser, gave to the media this week: Hong Kong started to have a resurgence directly related to indoor dining and bars and had to close them down. We know what a unfortunate nexus they’ve been for resurgences. We’ve seen it in Europe lately as well,” he said.
“We’re just not doing it now. We’ll keep looking, but we’re not doing it now. We’re going to focus on outdoor and obviously take-out delivery. Those options will keep going, but not now for indoor,” the mayor said.
De Blasio’s remarks drew negative reviews on Twitter:
How many restaurants will go out of business because of this?
There is no way they will survive through the winter. https://t.co/o4WXPxkdGn
— Dr. David Samadi, MD (@drdavidsamadi) August 21, 2020
De Blasio says NYC won’t reopen gyms before Sept. 2, while indoor dining might not return until there is a coronavirus vaccine https://t.co/6xi0qPw845. @NYCMayor that will never happen!Restaurants will fight you till the end!You will not destroy our businesses!THIS IS AMERICA
— OPEN UP JERSEY (@Jcotweets) August 19, 2020
Restaurants, meanwhile, are demanding action.
“Despite the fact that the city exceeds and sustains the metrics that have allowed restaurants throughout the rest of the state to reopen, government leaders have still yet to provide any guidance on when small business owners, workers and customers can expect indoor dining to return,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement.
“Our industry’s survival over the next several months depends on government immediately developing and implementing a plan that allows restaurants in New York City to safely reopen indoors like our counterparts everywhere else in the state.”
De Blasio later said he “ask[s] the health experts” about reopening restaurants “constantly.”
“Please, anyone who feels this and cares about the health and safety of New Yorkers, and obviously we do care about the huge number of people that work in the restaurant industry. I want them back to work. That’s why, look, we moved outdoor dining, [it] had never been done before. We’ve gotten almost 100,000 people back to work,” he said.
“We’re going to do it again next year. That’s what we could do and that’s been safe, but indoor dining — look, right now, at what’s happening in Hong Kong. Look, right now, what’s happening in Europe. Unfortunately, it’s proof positive that a lot of the problem comes from going back to the normal reality we knew with indoor dining.
“I wish it wasn’t true. It just is true. In the end, there’s a night-and-day reality between, say, a school and indoor dining.”
De Blasio contrasted the city’s push to reopen schools with its hesitancy to reopen restaurants for in-person dining.
“Schools are something — we are obligated to provide our kids an education,” he said. “And we can’t do that effectively without having them have some in-person instruction. And we do have the context to do it, and we can make sure everyone’s wearing a mask, and we have tons of safety precautions that we run as the public sector and we control. We don’t control what happens inside a restaurant or bar at every hour.”
De Blasion said the truth is that indoor dining is a risk.
“We know people don’t wear masks in restaurants and bars — by definition, you’re eating and drinking, you don’t wear a mask, the chance of transmission goes up greatly. I wish it wasn’t true, Brian. I’m not happy about it, but it’s just the truth, and New Yorkers actually prefer the blunt truth,” he said.
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