(Bloomberg) — New York City will delay the return of indoor dining, which had been planned for July 6, as other states experience a spike in Covid-19 cases after reopening their restaurants and bars, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday. The decision was made with the state, he said.
“It is not the time to forge ahead with indoor dining,” de Blasio said, citing surging outbreaks in Florida, California and Texas. “The news we’ve gotten around the country gets worse and worse all the time.”
Instead, de Blasio said the city would help restaurants expand their operations outdoors on sidewalks and curbside parking spaces.
“I’m very convinced we can help restaurants survive, but we have to do it safely and do it outdoors,” he said.
The city’s second phase of reopening, which started June 22, has permitted more than 5,000 restaurants to set up outdoors, but the limited seating comes nowhere close to returning the beleaguered industry to where it stood before the pandemic forced a citywide shutdown in March.
Studies have found the virus spreads more easily indoors and particularly among diners in restaurants. Epidemiologists have said that in some restaurants, the virus has been transmitted as it moves through an interior space via air conditioning or cooling fans. This factor, combined with New York City’s population density and its status as an international and domestic gateway, heightens the risks of viral spread.
The mayor’s news for the city, reeling after months of a virus-imposed lockdown, wasn’t all bad, though. He said the city’s beaches in the Rockaways, Coney Island, Staten Island and the Bronx will open today, and that 15 of the largest public pools will be opened by August.
Three pools — in the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens — will open July 24, and the other 12 on Aug. 1, de Blasio said.
(Adds context on restaurants, background on second phase of NYC reopening)
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