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In Light of New Data, Some NYC Restaurateurs Express Consternation at Indoor Dining Ban

PHOTO: Ward and Smith

Restaurants and bars accounted for 1.4 percent COVID-19 cases recorded in the last three months, prompting some restaurateurs to push back against the ban

By Tanay Warerkar | 11 December 2020

EATER — Many in the New York hospitality industry were dismayed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to shut down indoor dining starting Monday, as it followed close on the heels of new state data which showed that restaurants and bars in the state accounted for 1.4 percent of cases over the last three months. While most were prepared for the ban to be announced this week, many felt the decision seemed to contradict the data.

By comparison, private and social gatherings accounted for nearly 74 percent of COVID- 19 cases tracked by the state between September and the end of November, and the restaurant industry placed fifth overall among the various industries and activities contributing to the spread of the virus.

“This is insane,” says Yann de Rochefort, founder of the tapas chain Boqueria. “They are basically shutting down an industry and throwing thousands of people out of work because restaurants were linked to 1.4 percent of cases? It is criminal.”

Some in the industry say that restaurants have undertaken tremendous expense — while facing a revenue downturn due to the pandemic — to fit their indoor spaces with new air filters and other safety equipment, and that an indoor dining ban could encourage people to congregate in other areas including the several illicit, underground parties that have been busted in the last few months. […]

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