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As expected, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that indoor dining will stop in New York City from Monday December 14.

Speaking at his daily briefing today, the Governor insisted this was a necessary action to slow the spread of COVID-19. He said that factors in his decision had been the growth of Rt infection rate to 1.3 and the new CDC guidelines on bars and restaurants. The growth of the Rt was particularly concerning, as New York City has the greatest population density in the United States.

When asked about whether the state would help these hospitality businesses, Cuomo said they had compensated these businesses with the aggressive buildout of outdoor dining in the city. He stressed that outdoor dining and takeout will still be allowed, while announcing the commercial eviction moratorium would be extended to protect business owners from their landlords. “We are asking everyone to hold on. The end is in sight,” the Governor added.

Cuomo made the case that the State suffers with the closures too. “I suffer every lost dollar with these businesses,” he explained. “It’s not that I don’t understand or appreciate.”

Kevin Lee from At Nine Thai Restaurant gave us his reaction to the news: “COVID-19 spread is not because of people eating in the restaurant. There are many factors. I can’t believe that Cuomo blamed indoor dining. It’s ridiculous!”

“The closing of indoor dining in New York City is a devastating blow to all of our restaurants here in Hell’s Kitchen,” said Holly-Anne Devlin from Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Action Committee. “While we understand the governor’s position, we wish that he had given our small business owners more lead time so that they are not losing even more revenue on food and drink that was purchased for their patrons.”

“This makes no sense and no cents!”

“With or without indoor dining, Winter was going to be the toughest stretch for all NYC restaurants,” said Robert Guarino who oversees 5 Napkin Burger, Nizza and Marseille on 9th Avenue. “It is not going to be easy, but one way or another, Spring will be here before we know it. The Federal government needs to pass the Restaurants Act or comparable stimulus now in order to protect restaurant workers and small business owners. As always ‘order direct’ when placing your delivery or takeout orders from anyone in the neighborhood.”

Luis Garcia at Arriba Arriba took the news calmly: “We will follow all the state directions, if one life is saved it’s a great success. We believe it’s the last push to get this emergency over. We will continue outdoor dining, we are lucky to have a heated space to do it. For now, we are OPEN and ready for the next challenge!”

“Unfortunately with indoor dining closing, this will just equate to having to let some staff go…..again,” shared Timothy Carberry the General Manager of P.S. Kitchen. “We haven’t even been able to fill up 25% of the restaurant so I’m not sure why we (and other restaurants) need to halt indoor dining. We have done all of the requirements and more. This makes no sense and no cents! To group all restaurants as problematic is ridiculous.”

Suzy Darling told us that she would close her two bars — The Pocket Bar and Back Pocket Bar — from Monday and “reopen when there is 50% capacity for indoor seating.”

The Pocket Bar on W48th Street will close from Monday.

She told us that she was “relieved!”, explaining that this “has been the absolute most important work we have ever done, being a safe haven for the emotional devastation of this neighborhood during this pandemic. But it has been pure torture financially as a business to white-knuckle this storm. We will close Monday. Take a deep breath. We remain grateful for the generosity of what I believe to be ‘the best patrons in the world’ who got us to this point. And we are incredibly optimistic about the future.”

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