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NYC restaurants fear financial devastation as new restrictions loom

November 20, 2020 Associated Press
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Renewing restrictions on indoor dining in New York City amid surging coronavirus infections could deal a crippling financial blow to restaurants and their workers and should come with financial support, an industry group said Friday.

The NYC Hospitality Alliance made the plea as Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that he expected the state to impose restrictions in the city around the first week of December that would limit restaurants to outdoor dining.

The Alliance had not seen any contact tracing data showing that indoor dining, which resumed this fall under tight restrictions, is causing recent infections, executive director Andrew Rigie said.

“[A]nd thus struggling small business owners and their employees should not be left holding the bag as a default reaction without being justly compensated,” Rigie said in a statement.

He called for the city, state and federal governments to provide financial support for business owners and workers.

Restaurants were among the hardest-hit businesses when New York City emerged as a pandemic hot spot in March. Nearly 150,000 industry employees are out of work, and another shutdown could result in 90,000 New Yorkers possibly losing their jobs again, Rigie said.

Statewide, the leisure and hospitality industry was down nearly 330,000 jobs compared with last October. The state’s unemployment rate was 9.6 percent in October, and the city’s was 13.2 percent.

De Blasio, speaking on WNYC, said restrictions are needed before the situation worsens.

“When you think about the restaurants, when you think about the gyms right now, thank God they have not been a major nexus of the problem,” he said. “But the way things are going, unfortunately, they well could be.”

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