Restaurants will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity. On September 9, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that restaurants may resume indoor dining on September 30th as long as they meet specific requirements. Indoor dining has been shut down since last spring at the start of the pandemic, and restaurants have been limited to take out and outdoor dining.
Restaurants that reopen for indoor dining will be subject to inspection protocols and occupancy limits. Restaurants must serve customers at a 25 percent maximum capacity, space tables six feet apart and close bar tops for seating. Restaurants must also collect Test & Trace data from at least one customer at each table and conduct temperature checks at every front door. Employees must be offered COVID-19 protections like PPE. Service must end by midnight and masks must be worn by patrons when not seated at a table.
In addition, restaurants must meet enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards, and adhere to State- issued guidance. Restaurants must post their capacity limits and the contact information for patrons to report violations. Governor Cuomo encouraged New Yorkers to report compliance issues to an established hotline at 1-833-208-4160, texting “violation” to 855-904-5036, or filling out an online form.
If the City hits two percent in COVID-19 positivity rates, the City will immediately reassess continuing with indoor dining. Restaurants may continue to participate in the Open Restaurants outdoor dining program, which will allow outdoor dining to continue until October 31st. The guidelines for indoor dining will be reassessed based on available data on November 1st.
Governor Cuomo stated, “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. . . This is good news and the right step forward, especially for those 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.”
Mayor de Blasio stated, “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. 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.”
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)