Indoor dining will resume this month in New York City

On Sept. 30, New York City is set to resume indoor dining amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to an announcement from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

But before New Yorkers jump for joy, the reopening comes with a long list of restrictions and regulations — this won’t be quite the same eating-out experience that people are used to.

First, restaurants in New York City will only be allowed to operate at 25% capacity. In the majority of the rest of the state of New York, restaurants are operating at 50% capacity, Cuomo said during his announcement, but there have been “a cluster of outbreaks from restaurants,” hence the lower capacities in NYC.

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

There will also be extra precautions in place, including “temperature checks at the door,” Cuomo revealed. Each party will be required to leave contact information for one person, so that the restaurant can conduct contact tracing if there’s an outbreak there.

Additionally, masks must be worn when people are not seated at a table. Restaurants will enforce social distancing and meet new standards regarding air filtration, ventilation and purification.

There will be no bar service, but patrons can order drinks from their seats, and all service will end at midnight — a definite shift for New York nightlife.

This reopening is important for the “economic benefit” of restaurants, Cuomo pointed out. His office later tweeted out the list of “strict restrictions” that will need to be followed for indoor dining to resume.

“A restaurant is not just the restaurant owner, it’s the kitchen staff, waitstaff, there is a whole industry around restaurants,” Cuomo said. “And restaurants also pose a possible risk, concentration of people inside with indoor dining.”

He also explained why restaurants didn’t open sooner.

“We knew compliance was lacking in New York City,” Cuomo said. “That was a reason for caution.”

There will be a team of 400 enforcement personnel who will work with the State Police Task Force to ensure compliance in restaurants, and Cuomo encouraged customers to anonymously report violations. If needed, the state will “hit the pause button” on “any of the activities we’re allowing.”

“New Yorkers will keep New Yorkers safe,” he said.