Sept. 1, 2020 By Christian Murray
Council Member Costa Constantinides is calling on the city to come up with a plan to allow indoor dining.
The council member said Friday that if the city is able to reopen schools and gyms then there is no reason why a plan to permit indoor dining can’t be put together like the rest of the state.
The need to permit indoor dining grows greater as the winter approaches, the council member said.
“As the weather begins to cool we know our independently owned restaurant will soon take another hit when outdoor dining is no longer feasible,” Constantinides said on Friday. “So, I was incredibly upset when City Hall signaled it was giving up on these small businesses in relation to indoor dining.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo remain opposed to indoor dining, despite restaurants in Long Island and Westchester being allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity. New Jersey also gave the greenlight for restaurants to open indoors at a 25 percent capacity starting Friday.
Constantinides said the city needs to create a plan to allow New York City restaurants to operate indoors. The city’s outdoor dining program ends Oct. 31.
The plan should allow restaurants to operate but at a reduced capacity, with the city working with them to make sure the right HVAC systems are in place to filter air. In addition, he said, barriers should go up between tables for additional protection between diners.
Constantinides said that the restaurant industry is what make Astoria what it is and it needs to survive. He said that he hasn’t come to this conclusion lightly, given that he and his wife have both battled COVID-19.
“It would be defeatist to abandon them at their hour of need, when they have done so much to make this city what it is.”
De Blasio on Monday indicated that restaurants won’t be able to open their indoor space anytime soon, saying that a vaccine may be needed before that can take place.
“I do pray for and expect, a vaccine in the spring that will allow us all to get more back to normal,” he said. “We’re going to keep looking for that situation where we could push down the virus enough, where we would have more ability to address indoor dining. It would take a huge step forward to get to that point.”
The administration has long based the decision to close indoor dining on the data from other cities and countries.
“We know from the experience everywhere around the world and also from the United States that indoor dining is a very high risk activity, and there’s a reason for that,” said Jay Varma, the mayor’s senior adviser for public health last week.
“One is that you can’t wear a mask while eating,” Varma said, as well as “the duration of time…and your proximity to other people.”
It is ironic that both NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo claim to be advocates and friends for working and middle class New Yorkers. It is pure class warfare by de Blasio to claim that only wealthy people can afford to dine out. Millions of working and middle class people pre COVID-19 would eat out several days per week. Yet these are the same people Cuomo & deBlasio continue to deny the opportunity to go back to work. As each week goes by, hundreds more restaurants – small, medium and large will permanently close their doors.. After six months, it is becoming more and more difficult to remain in business with no income coming in.
Here is a simple common sense plan to begin the reopening process for indoor restaurant dinning. Follow the New Jersey model and allow any NYC restaurants to reopen on October 1st at 25%. Have them follow common sense health protocols. Wait four weeks. If there is no significant spike in COVID-19 cases, allow them to go to 33% indoor capacity on November 1st. Again, if there is no significant spike in COVID-19 cases, allow them to go to 50% on December 1st. This coincides with the holiday season which should encourage indoor dinning. Pause at 50% until such time as we survive any potential Flu outbreak. Once we have widespread distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, we can then proceed to permit 67%, 75% and finally 100% capacity over a shorter time period.
DiBlasio said that he wouldn’t open NYC restaurants for indoor dining until we have a vaccine. A VACCINE. That will be ONE YEAR of restaurants closed. How are restaurant owners supposed to stay afloat? DiBlasio also said is is dedicated to wealth redistribution and that dining out and going to restaurants is a luxury. If you do not vote and pay attention to local politics, you should know now that that’s what not voting will get you. No one ever thought this could happen, yet here we are. Make sure you are registered to vote and make sure you research these candidate, talk to them, let them know what we want. And get out there and vote.
It is an unfortunate reality, but many restaurants will go under. It is a fact that should be faced. Businesses can be rebuilt in time, but humam death is permanent. As we now know, even some survivors have permanent or long term serious health problems.
Even if there is a vaccine, rolling it out nationwide to each and every person, will be a huge task. It will not be instantaneous. New studies suggest that even outdoor dining -as it is now -has risk. I will not be dining out anywhere until it is really clear, even if that is years. If there were easier, expanded pick-up take out, then maybe—but I am not risking my family’s health just to sit in a room for an hour.
Costa, of all people. It’s not now safe-for customers or employees. I won’t be eating inside a restaurant until this thing is eradicated or a vaccine has been extensively administered. Sorry to the businesses, but these are the times we live in.
It’s not now safe-for customers or employees. Any data to substantiate your claims? No vaccine will eradicate this. Restaurants throughout the state have allowed indoor dining-no spike in cases. No Second wave. Stay home. Please. You must be a joy to live with
Sign the petition to open up indoor dining