NEW YORK – Renewing restrictions on indoor food service in New York City, amid mounting COVID-19 cases, could cause a crippling financial hit for restaurants and their workers and should be financially supported, he said an industry group on Friday.
The NYC Hospitality Alliance made the request when Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that he expected the state to impose restrictions on the city around the first week of December that would limit restaurants to offering only their service outdoors.
The Alliance has not seen any contact tracing data to show that indoor dining, which resumed this fall under strict restrictions, is causing recent infections, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Rigie said.
“Therefore, small business owners and their employees should not be the ones to stick with the bag as a default reaction without receiving fair compensation,” Rigie said in a statement.
He called on the municipal, state and federal governments to provide financial support to business owners and workers.
“Are we going into the holiday season and are we going to lay off tens of thousands and close deals? We need to support them,” Rigie said.
Restaurants were among the businesses hardest hit when New York City emerged as the focus of the pandemic in March. Nearly 150,000 industry employees are out of work, and another shutdown could result in 90,000 New Yorkers possibly losing their jobs again, Rigie said.
Across the state, the entertainment and hospitality industry lost nearly 330,000 jobs compared to October 2019. The state’s unemployment rate was 9.6% in October and the city’s was 13.2%.
De Blasio, speaking at WNYC, said restrictions are needed before the situation worsens.
“When you think of restaurants, when you think of gyms right now, thank God, they have not been a major nexus of the problem,” he said. “But the pace at which things are going, unfortunately, could be.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that New York City as a whole has failed to achieve 3% positive tests in a seven-day moving average, its main metric for locating areas of the state in orange zones where the closure of schools, indoor food service and gyms.
But he said it’s possible his administration could designate communities like Staten Island as an orange zone.
Staten Island has reported that at least 3% of tests came back positive on a seven-day moving average since Nov. 8.
New York reported 5,468 new positive cases as of Thursday, the highest in a single day since April 25 at 5,902.
The state has averaged 4,835 new positives and nearly 25 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. Those numbers have doubled in two weeks.
New York has reported that an average of 2.9% of tests came back positive during the past seven days, while hospitals averaged 2,080 patients. Both figures are 70% more than two weeks ago.
Cuomo emphasized that New York is doing more testing than many other states and that hospitalizations are well below the April peak when there were more than 18,000 COVID-19 patients at one time.
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