Starting Friday, New York State will require bars, restaurants and gyms to close at 10 p.m. and will cap the number of people allowed at private gatherings to 10, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this afternoon in a phone call to the press.
The new restrictions follow rising hospitalization and positivity rates across New York State and the country. In New York City, positivity rates and total hospitalizations have more than doubled since mid-September.
“If these numbers keep going crazy, you have some scientists who believe we’re going to go back to a closedown,” said Cuomo during the phone call. “I’m just praying that doesn’t happen.”
Cuomo’s new mandates are not a far cry from previous limitations. Prior to Cuomo’s announcement this afternoon, the state required bars and restaurants to close by 11 p.m., and it allowed private gatherings of less than 50 individuals.
According to Miguel Lloves, a manager at the West Village eatery Sevilla, the governor’s afternoon announcement will not affect his business’s day-to-day operations. “We were closing at nine [p.m.] since the beginning,” he said in a phone interview, referring to when the family-operated restaurant first reopened after the start of the pandemic.
The backslide to more restrictive policies, though, amplifies concerns about bars and restaurants’ ability to stay afloat as the winter brings chillier weather and the decline of outdoor dining. In fact, nearly two-thirds of restaurants across the state said they were likely to close by this coming January without additional relief, according to a September survey of more than 1,000 restaurants conducted by the New York State Restaurant Association.
“We support the governor in implementing policies that are called for in the interests of public safety,” Vittorio Antonini, owner of La Lanterna di Vittorio on MacDougal Street, said in an interview over the phone.
However, before jumping off the call to get back to his Italian cafe, he said: “Policies like this bring us closer to the brink of not being viable.”