photo credit: Katie Foster
Today marks the first day since March that NYC restaurants can begin indoor dining. As the city’s restaurants transition to their next phase of reopening, we want to make sure you stay on top of what’s happening at City Hall (in case you don’t have time to watch livestream press conferences). Most recently, the mayor has expressed the urgency for aggressive restaurant compliance checks in neighborhoods reporting upticks in positive Covid-19 test results.
In a press conference on Wednesday morning, Mayor de Blasio said that starting today, there would be “rigorous inspection efforts” for restaurants in areas with recently-increased percentages of positive Covid-19 tests. “We’re going to be looking carefully to make sure every restaurant is following the rules.”
The City’s health department has attributed much of Tuesday’s 3.25% daily positive test rate to nine zip codes in Brooklyn and Queens, as well as additional neighborhoods reporting case increases like Williamsburg and Rego Park. Until recently, NYC’s daily positive taste rate had been hovering around 1%.
The Mayor went on to name the specific policies restaurants must comply with in order to pass the city’s inspections, including adequate table spacing, temperature checks for diners and staff, and the prohibited use of bar tops as seating areas. For more information on indoor dining health and safety precautions, read our FAQ here.
When asked how restaurants would be penalized if they were caught breaking indoor dining compliance, de Blasio said, “The city believes the best outcome is to solve the problem, not take money away from restaurant owners and restaurant workers, or shut down a business...That said, with the challenges now in these key zip codes, we have to take a strong approach...If we find non-compliance, we’re going to have to be aggressive in terms of fines...If we have to get to a shutdown, we would go in that direction.”
With the weather in the 60s and outdoor dining’s permanent extension, many restaurants will continue serving diners in backyards, on sidewalks, and in the middle of the street. The mayor himself confirmed today that he prefers outdoor dining to eating inside right now. “I’d like to continue as I have - to enjoy outdoor dining first while the weather is still good...and then, of course, shift to indoor when the outdoor isn’t as prevalent because of the weather.”
“The important thing, and I say this to all New Yorkers, if you have the resources, please get out there and support our restaurant industry today whether it’s outdoor or indoor.”