New York City has seen major spikes in COVID-19 cases since Thanksgiving.
In the state’s most strict clampdown yet, Governor Andrew Cuomo accounted for restrictions on restaurants and businesses. Starting December 14, restaurants are no longer allowed to continue indoor dining. This rule is based on the states’ regional hospitalization rates. Regions with consistently higher and continually increasing hospitalization rates can no longer continue in-door dining.
The goal, according to Gov. Cuomo, is to stabilize hospitalization rates, to help with the limited capacity. In other words, only when the citywide hospitalization rate begins to level out will New York allow in-door dining again.
If the regional hospitalization rates continually increase for more than five days, regions with an initial 50% capacity must reduce to 25% capacity for indoor dining. Compared to the beginning of the pandemic, New York City and Long Island are faring better than other regions, with lower rates than Upstate New York.
According to Dr. Fauci, there will be a spike in COVID-19 cases due to the holiday season. For example, Thanksgiving gatherings will undoubtedly result in a significant increase in cases, primarily in the ten days following it. After that, with the upcoming Christmas and Hannukah celebrations, hospitalizations will increase as well. It can take up to 2 weeks for the hospitalization rate to catch up with COVID-19 spikes.
Since the state and the nation still have a long way to go regarding vaccine distribution, reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19 is critical. According to Cuomo, the economy cannot return to any definitive normality until at least 75-85% of people have taken the vaccine. Projections show that this won’t occur until well into 2021. Thus, the only thing New York City citizens have control over is social distancing, masks, and reducing overall gatherings.
Hence, the new regulations about in-door dining are an attempt to manage reduced adherence to the main COVID-19 prevention strategies. The New York State Restaurant Association confirmed that the new rules will lead to the bankruptcies and closures of many food establishments. Reducing indoor dining capacity means letting go of thousands of employees.
In response, New Jersey Gov. Murphy believes New York’s regulations to be too tight. While New Jersey is also seeing a significant rise in cases, alongside a 74% rate of noncooperation from its citizens, he refuses to take such measures to avoid “underground” behavior.