Some of New York City’s most acclaimed chefs are calling for an update on whether they will be able to open their restaurants to indoor dining in the fall, and they say they might not be able to survive unless they can. Meanwhile, some 300 restaurants are suing the city for a ban on indoor dining, as neighbouring states have allowed it.
The City allowed outdoor dining from 22 June, however, with the scheme due to end on 31 October, Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to put forward any plan that will allow restaurants to welcome guests indoors.
If restaurants are going to be restricted from serving guests indoors, and as the temperatures cool significantly in the fall in New York, restaurateurs would need to know as soon as possible in order to negotiate with their landlords and adjust their business plans accordingly.
"Dr. Autumn is knocking on the door in a big way," Danny Meyer, of Union Square Hospitality Group, said.
He added that the lack of information from de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo was making it '”impossible to have rational conversations.”
More than 1000 restaurants have closed their doors permanently in the city of New York due to the coronavirus crisis, and those that have survived face an uncertain future. Not every restaurant has the possibility of outdoor dining, so with restaurants under so much pressure, they are calling for some kind of clarity.
However, de Blasio has signalled that indoor dining may be some months away.
“We do expect - and pray for and expect - a vaccine in the spring that will allow us to get more back to normal," he said.
“But I will absolutely tell you, we're going to keep looking for that situation where we can push down the virus enough where we would have more ability to address indoor dining.”
When asked whether he could give any clarity about the return to indoor dining, he wasn’t particularly hopeful.
“Is there a way where we can do something safely with indoor dining? So far we have not had that moment, honestly,” he said.
“It would take a huge step forward to get to that point and that's the truth”.
Andrew Rigie, of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, questioned de Blasio's suggestion that the city hadn't worked out how to safely allow indoor dining.
“With indoor dining resuming soon in New Jersey, New York City will be surrounded by indoor dining but locked out from participating at significant economic peril,” he said.
“The situation is at a boiling point and our government leaders must immediately develop a plan to reopen indoor dining across the five boroughs, like what's been provided to restaurants throughout the rest of the state.
“Otherwise, our city's economic crisis will reach a point it cannot come back from, with thousands of more restaurants permanently closing and likely more lawsuits filed against the government.
More than 300 restaurants have sued the City over the ban on indoor dining, seeking $2billion in damages in a class action lawsuit.
“The rest of New York State has been operating for months now at 50 percent reduced indoor occupancy using the same requirements that NYC was going to use starting July 6, until it was put on hold indefinitely,” said Rigie.