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Indoor dining ban in New York City as virus cases rise

December 14, 2020 Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — A ban on indoor dining at New York City restaurants went into effect Monday as officials try to slow the resurgence of the coronavirus.

The clampdown, announced last week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is a severe blow to a struggling industry that has made the city a culinary capital. New York City is home to roughly 24,000 restaurants, and owners warned of layoffs and closures if they are limited to takeout orders and outdoor dining this winter.

Just last week, the 21 Club in midtown Manhattan, a favorite of the power elite for almost a century, announced it was closing indefinitely due to the pandemic.

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday he sympathized with restaurant owners and workers, but noted the rising number of cases and hospitalizations. More than 1,700 patients were hospitalized in the city this weekend with COVID-19 infections, almost triple the number a month ago.

“We’ve got to bring this industry back. We’ve got to bring back the restaurants we love. But it’s going to take time, and meantime we’ve got to stay safe because this second wave is very, very real,” de Blasio said during his press briefing.

Even as the mayor celebrated the launch of vaccine distribution Monday, he warned that further restrictions are likely in the near future.

Cuomo had said he was trying to avoid a worst-case scenario with overwhelmed hospitals forcing a ban on both indoor and outdoor dining.

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