NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Reopening phases have come and gone, but as for dining at New York City restaurants, it remains outdoor only.
So what is the plan when the seasons change and the temperatures drop? It turns out there is no real plan and that prompted CBS2’s Marcia Kramer to demand answers on Tuesday.
“If you ask me my opinion about the mayor of New York City … he’s killing the city and he’s an idiot,” Danny Covello said.
From diners to the owner of Mario’s, a 101-year-old restaurant, to the head of the Arthur Avenue Improvement District, there’s anger and disbelief that with cold weather right around the corner and restaurants struggling, de Blasio has no plans to allow indoor dining in New York City.
“They need to throw a lifeline to the restaurants so they survive, absolutely. Something has to give,” Mario’s owner Regina Migliucci-Delfino said.
“This is wonderful while the weather is good and we hope it stays for a long time, but during the winter this is not a sustainable model. There has to be indoor dining,” the Arthur Avenue Improvement District’s Peter Madonia added.
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The city’s 25,000-plus eateries are having a tough time, even with thousands participating in the city’s outdoor dining program.
Kramer asked the mayor if he had a plan for indoor dining. She pointed out the economic hardships.
“Are you afraid that come the cold months we’re going to have more business failures, which will adversely effect the city’s economy?” Kramer asked.
“I’m very cautious on this point,” the mayor responded.
That was a “no.” The mayor said he’s afraid of a resurgence, adding the restaurants will have to make do with outdoor dining, take out and delivery.
“To get to the point where we have a vaccine and then we can really come back,” de Blasio said.
“We just saw just in the last 24 hours that Hong Kong, for example, is experiencing its third wave and what was their first step that they took? To limit indoor dining and restaurants,” said Dr. Jay Varma, the mayor’s senior advisor for public health.
Some think that the mayor’s attitude is a let-them-eat-cake plan, only there’s no cake, no pasta, no money coming in to sustain restaurants, and no tax receipts for the city.
Kramer asked Madonia what will happen to the city’s economy if some of these restaurants go out of business.
“Look, the sales tax revenues drop. It’s an important component of the city budget. The payroll tax revenues drop. This is a core industry in New York City,” Madonia said. “Losing 25%, 50%, 70% … who knows what the number is without indoor dining. The city is in enough trouble without having that happen,” Madonia said.
While indoor dining is allowed in nearby Yonkers, a spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the governor doesn’t favor indoor dining in New York City, either, adding he is afraid of a virus outbreak. His reason? The spokesperson said Cuomo doesn’t think the city has done a very good job of enforcing outdoor dining.
Watch Jessica Layton’s report —
Restaurant owners over in New Jersey are also wondering when Gov. Phil Murphy will see the light on indoor dining.
Ron Marino owns Christine’s restaurant in Atlantic Highlands, NEw Jersey.
“It’s hard to listen to one person who’s not in the trenches with you,” he said.
He says after five months, it’s about time the governor give people the choice.
“If you wanna come to dinner, you come to dinner. If you don’t, stay home,” Marino said.
“Nobody wants to get sick, but we just want to keep our businesses alive,” restaurant owner Amy Russo said.
Especially considering industry officials estimate 32% of restaurants across New Jersey will close by year’s end.
“Open us up at least immediately at 25%,” said Marilou Halvorsen, with the New Jersey Hospitality and Restaurant Association. “Give us the opportunity to show you what we can do.”
“What are you doing to help these restaurateurs?” CBS2’s Jessica Layton asked the governor.
“The virus indoors is a lot more lethal than it is out of doors. So if you’re inside, you’re sedentary, you’re in close proximity, by definition you’re taking your mask off to eat or drink,” Murphy said.
“We’re a safe industry, and I think sometimes we’re held out there like we’re the problem,” restaurant owner Tim McLoone said.
There was a big outdoor dining turnout Tuesday night, which offers an idea of how much communities want to see their local restaurants succeed.
But not every business has a large outdoor dining set-up, and the weather won’t be this nice for much longer.
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