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Cuomo: NYC Restaurants Can Only Reopen Indoor Dining Once A Local Enforcement Mechanism Is Created

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - Diners in New York City are going to have to keep waiting before being able to enjoy a meal inside their favorite restaurants.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says post-Labor Day brings challenges when it comes to COVID-19.

Cuomo says the upcoming fall season means New Yorkers will have a new set of issues to combat. As summer wanes, he's urging New Yorkers not to lose focus when it comes to the coronavirus.

"What is our priority now, going forward? To protect the progress we've made. You're under 1%," he said.

Tuesday he addressed a variety of ways the state is ensuring cases stay low, chief among them, not allowing restaurants in New York City to reopen for indoor dining. He says the state task force for checking compliance of bars and restaurants has been spread thin.

WATCH: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Gives Coronavirus Briefing

"It would be negligent and reckless to open indoor dining, knowing that you have issues in upstate New York, knowing that compliance is going to be a problem, and knowing that you have no enforcement mechanism," the governor said.

He added indoor dining will only resume once local governments help with inspection and enforcement.

Cuomo said New York City didn't provide enforcement when bars reopened, which created what he called a "nightmare." He said the State Liquor Authority-led taskforce has issued thousands of violations to bars and maxed out its capacity, therefore it cannot check on the restaurants that would reopen.


The governor said reopening indoor dining in upstate New York created issues, including new clusters and difficulties with compliance with regulations.

"How devastating has it been for the business not being able to have indoor dining?" CBS2's Kiran Dhillon asked Nicole Castello of Public House New York.

"It's been very devastating. I would say on a scale from 1-10, 20. Maybe even more," Castello said.

Many restaurant owners Dhillon spoke with said they wish the state had a bit more faith in local business owners.

"We are doing everything in our power to ensure the safety of our guests and our staff, from social distancing rules to making sure we have security on," Castello said.

But some customers are on the state's side.

"I'm very concerned, like everybody, about the economy and what it means for all these businesses," said Joe Eriole.  "But I just don't think there's any advantage, really, to rushing it. I think we'll probably regret it."

Meanwhile, the governor also announced COVID-19 safety plans for voting, saying absentee ballots can be returned to drop boxes at 300+ Board of Election sites statewide. Many New Yorkers are on board.

"You need to be able to allow absentee voting," one person said.

"Older people or people with conditions, why would they expose themselves if there are other options," said another.

Finally, with the fall season comes the start of school. The state issued a warning to colleges.

"The students who want to socialize and party, now you're going to do remote learning. It's not going to be helpful to the school administration," Cuomo said.

The governor says if a college sees 100 COVID cases or an outbreak equal to 5% of its population in a two-week period, the school must switch to remote learning for 14 days.

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