NYC indoor dining may finally have a pathway for opening as Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined a plan yesterday. He meets with city council president Corey Johnson today.
By David Stone
When Governor Cuomo and New York’s mayor Bill de Blasio scuttled indoor dining for New York City in July, two issues drove the decision.
First, states opening dining earlier saw spikes in coronavirus infection rates. And second, the industry its own worst enemy, violations of existing rules ran rampant.
With New York setting the pace for lowering COVID-19 rates, after thousands of early deaths, firm guidelines needed to be enforced.
Now, two months later, a bumpy road to NYC indoor dining may smooth out, if state and city can work together.
Will NYC Indoor Dining Happen Soon?
New York City’s swift and successful move into outdoor dining raised hopes for transitioning indoors, but there’s a catch. And as so often happens, it involves a clash between Cuomo and de Blasio.
Violations across the city led to hundreds of liquor license suspensions as bars and restaurants were caught sneaking inside. And there was a lot of boozing clusters in streets and on sidewalks.
Pissed that the city slacked on enforcement, Cuomo tightened the rules and took a swipe at de Blasio and NYPD. Why were city cops not cracking down?
The mayor countered, dispatching sheriffs to patrol for violations that resulted in dozens of new suspensions.
New Jersey opens indoor dining this weekend. Will New York follow?
“It’s time to allow indoor dining in New York City with reduced capacity and clear guidance to ensure social distancing and safety.” City Council President Corey Johnson in a statement on Wednesday.
““I’d like to see the restaurants open. However, there’s a but,” Cuomo countered. “The but is the rules and guidance on reopening is only as good as the compliance and the enforcement.”
Mindful that NYC, among all state locals, is the only one not open for indoor dining, there’s room for compromise.
But there’s one big gap in the plans for action, so far, and that’s all six-foot, five inches of Bill de Blasio.
Cuomo’s meeting with Johnson, not the mayor.
While Cuomo said he’d tell Johnson that a 4,000 NYPD unit dedicated to enforcement of indoor dining rules is a minimum requirement, he left something out.
Mayor de Blasio runs the police department, not Corey Johnson, and he was far from clear.
“If there can be a timeline, if there can be a set of standards for reopening,” the mayor said, “we need to decide that in the next few weeks and announce it, whether it’s good news or bad news.”
Will the smoldering mayor-governor feud gum up the works? Can Corey Johnson successfully play intermediary?
Hint: Cuomo usually gets what he wants, and he has the upper hand.
But stay tuned.