New Yorkers wanting to eat out again will not be able to do so until a vaccine for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) becomes commercially available, according toa decreefrom New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Indoor dining will remain off-limits in the Big Apple at least until June 1, 2021, de Blasio announced, and only on the condition that New Yorkers agree to get whatever WuFlu jab is ready at that time.
“We do expect – and pray for and expect – a vaccine in the spring that will allow us to get more back to normal,” de Blasio stated at his daily press briefing.
“But I will absolutely tell you, we’re going to keep looking for that solution where we can push down the virus enough where we would have more ability to address indoor dining.”
Despite a meager 0.59 percent infection rate – “one of or lowest” since March, de Blasio admitted – NYC is on track to remain closed indefinitely. Meanwhile, nearby New Jersey is reopening its restaurants for indoor dining at 25 percent capacity starting Friday.
Even other areas of New York state, including neighboring Long Island and Westchester, have had limited indoor dining for several weeks now. But not NYC, which remains under total lockdown for reasons that even de Blasio himself could not elucidate.
“Is there a way where we can do something safely with indoor dining?” he asked during the presser. “So far we have not had that moment, honestly.”
Reopening NYC will require a “huge step forward,” de Blasio warns
Failing to disclose what metrics he is using to determine when it might be “safe” to reopen the city, de Blasio went on to warn that it is still going to take “a huge step forward to get to that point,” suggesting that returning to any type of normalcy is still a long way off.
As for when a vaccine from President Donald Trump’sOperation Warp Speed programmight become available, federal officials have already indicated that one could be ready before the end of the year, and possibly even in time for the election.
Since it is still summer, outdoor dining has worked for some NYC establishments – less than half are currently open, though. But the al fresco program currently in place isset to expireon Oct. 31.
After this time, NYC will be too cold for most types of outdoor dining, save for those restaurants that have heavy-duty heat lamps. But de Blasio is planning to extend the al fresco measure regardless, as if this will somehow help restaurants stay afloat through the winter months.
“We’re looking at that right now,” he is quoted as saying. “We’re trying to get a sense from the restaurant community how much interest there is in going longer. There’s definitely openness on our part to going longer if we think it will contribute something.”
On Twitter, one user responded with what most were probably thinking following de Blasio’s announcement:
“Who is the psychopath that is going to dine outdoors in NYC in November?”
Andrew Rigie, head of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, is one such person who is urging the mayor to cut the crap and bring indoor dining back as soon as possible.
“We need to extend outdoor dining and allow heaters past October, but that’s not a sole solution,” he is quoted as saying. “We need a plan for indoor dining immediately, not a re-evaluation in a month.”