New York City is postponing indoor restaurant dining indefinitely and other states, including California, and cities were pulling back from reopening plans as coronavirus cases continued to spike in many areas.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom Wednesday afternoon said increasing spread of COVID-19 required it to order closure of indoor operations for three weeks at restaurants in 19 of the state’s 58 counties as well as all bars in those jurisdictions. California will enforce the public health orders with a multi-agency strike team, Newsom said.
The indoor dining postponement in New York City and ban in counties in California followed postponements in New Jersey, Philadelphia and roll-backs of dine-in restrictions in Texas and Florida.
Nancy Luna sat down with the founder of Lazy Dog, Chris Simms, for an upcoming NRN Extra Serving podcast when news broke about the new California restrictions. Watch the moment here:
Wisconsin’s Dane County, home to Madison, also announced Wednesday coronavirus-related limits on indoor bars and restaurants. Washington State over the weekend halted some counties from moving into the next phase of its reopening.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, in announcing New York City’s decision to delay reopening indoor dining in the five boroughs, said: "Indoors is the problem, the science is showing it more and more. We cannot go ahead at this point in time with indoor dining in New York City.
"Even a week ago we were hopeful we could but it keeps getting worse and worse around the country,” the mayor said. Indoor dining was scheduled to return Monday under Phase III of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reopening strategy.
Representatives of New York City restaurants and bars, however, expressed concern.
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement: “Restaurants and bars have been making enormous financial sacrifices for four months, and their survival now depends on compensation reflective of those losses.
“We respect the government and public health officials’ decision to postpone the anticipated July 6th reopening of indoor dining, but the longer neighborhood restaurants and bars are forced to be closed, the harder it will be for them to ever successfully reopen,” Rigie said. “This makes it even more urgent to forgive rent, expand outdoor dining and enact other responsive policies to save our city’s beloved small businesses and jobs.”
Beyond New York, other areas were putting limits on indoor dining and service at bars.
Public Health Madison & Dane County, which oversees rules in Madison, Wis., issued a new order on Wednesday that goes into effect at 8 a.m. Thursday.
“For the past week, Dane County has seen a sustained, high number of cases. After consultation with our contact-tracing team, gatherings and visits to bars and restaurants continue to be implicated in interviews with cases,” said Janel Heinrich, director of Public Health Madison & Dane County, in a statement. “We are acting now to immediately curb this increase in cases and protect the health and safety of our community.”
Dane County ordered restaurants to reduce indoor dining to 25% of capacity. It permitted bars and restaurants to provide outdoor seating with physical distancing. Dane County said it would not move toward looser rules for at least a month.
Wednesday’s efforts followed remarks by Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at a U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday, when he said he would not be surprised to see coronavirus infections more than double, from more than 40,000 a day now to 100,000 a day.
“I’m not satisfied with what’s going on because we’re going in the wrong direction,” Fauci said. “Clearly, we are not in total control right now.”
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