NYC delays resumption of indoor dining at restaurants

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that he was delaying the planned resumption of indoor dining at restaurants in the city out of fear it would cause a spike in coronavirus infections.

The mayor, a Democrat, said he was concerned that if the city welcomed diners back into the enclosed spaces of its restaurants, it might experience the same surge in illness now being seen in other states.

“Honestly, even a week ago, honestly, I was hopeful we could. But the news we have gotten from around the country gets worse and worse all the time.”

Outdoor dining at restaurants, which started about two weeks ago, can continue, de Blasio said. He said 6,600 restaurants in the city have applied for permits to serve patrons outdoors and he expects more to follow suit.

“Outdoor dining unquestionably has been a great hit,” de Blasio said. “And I think the bottom line is that outdoors is working, period. This is one of the things we’ve learned. Outdoors is where we need to be to the maximum extent possible this summer as we fight back this disease.”

New York City is in the second phase of its reopening plan and is expected to get approval from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to go to a third phase on July 6.

Under the current rules, large gatherings of people are still banned, but retail stores have been allowed to welcome customers back inside and offices have reopened to workers with some social distancing rules in place.

Rates of infection and hospitalizations for COVID-19 have been declining in New York since the peak in April, even as other states have seen increases in new cases in recent weeks. Both de Blasio and Cuomo have faulted states in the South and West for relaxing coronavirus restrictions too quickly.

“We know a lot of other parts of the country very sadly made decisions based on something other than the data,” de Blasio said.

By Patricia Older