New York City restaurants continue to suffer as a result of COVID-19. Take out, delivery and outdoor dining can only go so far.
As the weather gets colder, outdoor dinning will no longer be viable. Several days ago, New Jersey joined Long Island, Westchester, the rest of New York State and Connecticut in permitting indoor dining.
There has been no spike in COVID-19 cases as a result of indoor dining in any of these locations. More New Yorkers will join those already traveling to adjacent counties and states beyond the City Line to dine indoors.
In the meantime, over 300,000 NYC residents whose livelihood depends on restaurants remaining open are out of work. This includes bartenders, waiters, busboys, cooks and cashiers.
Wholesale market food sellers, distributors, delivers, linen suppliers are also at a loss. There are also construction contractors and their employees who may renovate or build a new restaurant.
It is ironic that both NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo claim to be advocates and friends for working and middle-class New Yorkers. It is pure class warfare by de Blasio to claim that only wealthy people can afford to dine out.
Millions of working and middle-class people pre COVID-19 would eat out several days per week. Yet these are the same people Cuomo and de Blasio continue to deny the opportunity to go back to work. As each week goes by, hundreds more restaurants – small, medium and large will permanently close their doors. After six months, it is becoming more and more difficult to remain in business with no income coming in.
Here is a simple common-sense plan to begin the reopening process for indoor restaurant dining.
Follow the New Jersey model and allow any NYC restaurants to reopen on Oct. 1st at 25 percent capacity. There are many potential customers from Great Neck and other communities in Nassau County along with Westchester, Rockland, northwest Connecticut and northern New Jersey who would also look forward to returning and patronizing NYC diners and restaurants.
Have them follow common sense health protocols. Wait four weeks. If there is no significant spike in COVID-19 cases, allow them to go to 33 percent indoor capacity on Nov. 1.
Again, if there is no significant spike in COVID-19 cases, allow them to go to 50 percent on Dec. 1st. This coincides with the holiday season which should encourage indoor dining. Pause at 50 percent until such time as we survive any potential flu outbreak.
Once we have the widespread distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, we can then proceed to permit 67 percent, 75 percent and finally 100 percent capacity over a shorter time period.
There has always been a downturn in business for restaurants during the winter.
Cold weather or snow keeps people indoors. Bring back the diners old Early Bird Specials between 3 and 6 p.m. to attract additional customers. Offer discounts on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday which tend to be slower days.
(A frequent patron of diners and restaurants for over 50 years)