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The news comes as reports indicate 328 confirmed coronavirus cases across the state.

New York restaurants and bars must cut capacity by 50%, governor says

Drastic measures are designed to encourage social distancing to stem coronavirus spread

Venues across New York state — including, presumably, restaurants and bars — will be required to reduce capacity by half in an effort to curtail close human contact and stem the spread of coronavirus, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

Beginning Friday at 5 p.m., all venues in the state will be required to reduce capacity by 50% or be closed down, with the exception for schools, hospitals, public buildings, mass transit, grocery and retail stores. Gatherings of 500 or more are banned.

“Public health experts have been clear that limiting large public gatherings where there is potential for close contact is a critical way to slow the spread of this virus,” said Dr. Howard Zucker, the state’s health department commissioner, in a statement.

Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, said the cap would dramatically impact restaurants across the state.

“Restaurants in Westchester and New York City have already reached a tipping point and are barely keeping their doors open,” said Fleischut in a statement. “The dramatic decline in business will only get worse, and there is a growing fear among owners about how they will survive this crisis without meaningful assistance.”

In a letter to the governor and state legislature, Fleischut said some member restaurants have seen a 55% decrease in business. She urged lawmakers to offer the following relief:

  • Prevent price gouging by implementing a temporary cap on delivery fees; 
  • Extend the window for restaurants to make payments on COVID-19-related costs they are incurring, including paid sick leave
  • Extending terms of payment to alcohol distributors from 60 to 90 days
  • Making available no-interest loans to those who have seen a dramatic increase in business
  • Eliminating penalties for late payment of business and property taxes
  • Extending the cure period for various violations facing businesses during the crisis
  • Educating the public that it is safe to patronize their local brick-and-mortar restaurants and bars.

The governor and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also declared a state of emergency. Shows on Broadway have been canceled through mid April, and museums and other performance venues have announced temporary shut downs.

The news comes as reports indicate 328 confirmed coronavirus cases across the state, up by 112 since Monday, with 95 of those cases in New York City.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter:@livetodineout

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