A coalition of New York City restaurants are threatening to sue Mayor Bill de Blasio after he admitted there was ‘no plan’ and refused to give a timeline for when indoor dining can return amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The New York City Hospitality Alliance on Thursday demanded that de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo release a plan for when indoor dining can resume across the city.
Separately, a group of 100 restaurants in Brooklyn and Staten Island have now also vowed to file a class-action lawsuit to force the city’s hand and allow eateries to have people back inside.
It comes after de Blasio said there was no plan for when indoor dining could resume.
‘We are looking at it everyday, but we have to see a lot more improvement before we consider it,’ de Blasio said at his press conference.
‘There is no timeline.’
Indoor dining was part of phase three of Cuomo’s reopening plan for the state.
New York City entered phase three in early July but Cuomo and de Blasio have only so far allowed outdoor dining in NYC’s five boroughs.
Every other county in New York state are currently allowed to have indoor dining at reduced capacity.
The Alliance has argued that it has been more than six weeks since indoor dining was put on hold indefinitely but there is still no plan.
They say gyms, which were in phase four, and schools have already been given reopening plans or guidelines.
New York currently has a positive test rate of 0.72 percent, which is among the lowest in the country. The state’s infection rate has been below 1 percent for 14 straight days.
‘Despite the fact that the city exceeds and sustains the metrics that have allowed restaurants throughout the rest of the state to reopen, government leaders have still yet to provide any guidance on when small business owners, workers and customers can expect indoor dining to return,’ said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance.
‘Our industry’s survival over the next several months depends on government immediately developing and implementing a plan that allows restaurants in New York City to safely reopen indoors like our counterparts everywhere else in the state.’
The Alliance says a survey of 500 restaurants and bar owners found that 83 percent couldn’t pay commercial rent last month.
They argue that restaurants and bars employ 200,000 fewer people than they did in March and nearly 60 percent of hospitality industry workers are now jobless, according to the latest unemployment figures.
When asked about the Alliance’s demand for a plan, Cuomo on Thursday said he understood the struggles many businesses are facing.
‘With restaurants, we are very aware of it. We made the provision to the outdoor dining, precisely for that reason,’ he said.
‘Now, they are right, the weather is going to start to get cold: what are we going to do if its cold and people don’t want to eat outside? I get it. Again, that’s in the fall, and today in this environment, two weeks is what a year used to be, right? Everything changes every two weeks.’
Cuomo said NYC restaurants had to deal with a number of other factors than eateries elsewhere in the state.
‘They’re different demographically, they’re different in population, they’re different by density, they’re different by crowding factor. Westchester County never had the problem that New York City had. Nassau never had the problem that New York CIty had. They’re two totally different environments.
‘Are we more careful in New York City because of those factors? Of course we are. It would be negligent not to be.
‘Even though that the current dynamics are totally different we have much, a much bigger problem in New York City today than any of the surrounding suburbs with the lack of compliance.’