NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday indoor dining can resume in New York City at 25% as of September 30.
There will be a host of requirements restaurants will have to meet.
Those restrictions include:
- Temperature checks required at the door
- One member of each party will have to provide contact information in the event contact tracing is needed
- No bar service. Bars will only be for waitstaff
- Masks must be worn at all times except when sitting at the table
- All tables must be six feet apart
- All restaurants must close at midnight
- Strict adherence to state guidance on air filtration
- Limited air recirculation
- Outdoor dining may continue
Cuomo has said the major issue is making sure the restaurants are in compliance with the various regulations. To that end, Cuomo said that the state will expand its State Liquor Authority Task Force which was assigned to crack down on bars that flouted reopening regulations.
Tuesday, Cuomo said that task force was at capacity. Wednesday, the governor said New York City will supply 400 code enforcement inspectors and agents to work with that task force. Despite that, the governor said there will be roughly 10,000 restaurants that will have to be checked for compliance, far outstripping capacity of the task force, even with the additional inspectors.
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"The new idea to assist with compliance is this. New Yorkers themselves will help with compliance. New Yorkers will keep New Yorkers safe," Cuomo said.
Watch Aundrea Cline-Thomas' report --
"We are continuing New York City's economic recovery by bringing back indoor dining. Working with the state and public health officials, we've achieved a plan that puts health and safety first by including strict capacity limits, a close monitoring of citywide positive testing rates and a coordinated inspection regimen. Science will guide our decision-making as we continue to monitor progress and health care indicators over the next three weeks to ensure a safe reopening. This may not look like the indoor dining that we all know and love, but it is progress for restaurant workers and all New Yorkers," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
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The governor said the Restaurant Association and New York State are going to producing a public service announcement calling on New Yorkers to help make sure the restaurants are in compliance. The state has established a phone number for people to report potential violations anonymously to the task force. That number is 833-218-4160, or you can text VIOLATION to 855-904-5036. Restaurants will post signs with that number on it. For more information, CLICK HERE.
"I believe in New Yorkers. I believe in New Yorkers' ability to do the right thing. That is not blind faith. That is a result of the experience we had going through COVID," Cuomo said.
If New York City hits 2% in COVID-19 positivity rates, the city will reassess restaurant reopenings.
"The New York City restaurant industry has been financially devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and a safe return to indoor dining is critical to help save these vital small businesses and jobs. We're thankful to Governor Cuomo for announcing a return to indoor dining with a blueprint for future expansion. Restaurants are essential to New York's economic and social fabric, and indoor dining is a key component to the industry's recovery," said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance.
On Restaurant Row, there was relief. Owners told CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas this is the only way to stay in business. One told her it finally gives them hope. The question is: Will diners feel comfortable with the new option?
Unlike the suburbs, for now, tables inside New York City restaurants are empty or just stacked in a corner. Now that indoor dining can begin as of Sept. 30 - and coupled with outdoor dining - restaurant owners say it finally gives them a chance.
"Assuming the weather cooperates, because that's a big factor for us. We can do close to normal numbers so that's exciting for us," said Shane Hathaway, owner of Hold Fast Kitchen and Spirits.
"See something, say something. I don't know how diners are going to feel about that," said restaurant patron Pam Knight.
Cline-Thomas asked customers if they're ready to dine inside.
"Yes, with the appropriate safety precautions," said restaurant patron Chris Makens.
"I'm nervous but I'm eager too to see how people will respond to it," said Lauren Sloan.
Still, Hathaway is getting ready.
"We want to make sure our HVAC system is ready to go because we have to install the UV attachment," he said.
He's hoping this is a lifeline to stay afloat.
WATCH: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Discusses Return Of Indoor Dining In NYC As Of Sept. 30
Chefs at Luthun would love to feel more optimistic about opening for indoor dining.
"We have only 35 seats, so if it's 25%, I can seat only seven to eight persons," chef Nahid Ahmed told CBS2's Jessica Layton.
"It's just been a struggle the whole time," chef and co-owner Arjuna Bull said. "A little bit helps, of course, but it nowhere near pays the bills."
It's the same dilemma plaguing pizza shops across the city.
The owner of Casabianca on the West Side, Victor Guaman, says the plan gives him three to four tables tops while they're struggling to pay the rent.
"Honestly, we're not paying," he said. "We're paying just a little amount."
Indoor dining comes too little too late for Good Stuff Diner in the West Village. A letter posted on their door says they will be closing permanently "due to the obstacles of the COVID-19 pandemic."
Lisa Davis says she met friends there at least once a week.
"We are broken-hearted," she said. "This is where we came. Where is the New York City Council? What are they doing? Why are they not supporting businesses like this?"
Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo are still facing multiple lawsuits surrounding the delay of indoor dining.
Still, those who have managed to hang on say while 25% isn't ideal, combined with outdoor dining, it gives them a chance.
"We are New Yorkers. We'll come back, no matter what," Ahmed said.
Indoor dining is happening at the same time as other indoor activities are getting the green light. The coronavirus infection rate is expected to increase - but if it's too much, all of the changes will be rolled back.
If it's stable, indoor restaurant capacity can increase to 50% in November.
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