New York City will enter phase 3 of Covid-19 reopening as planned Monday, July 6th but the look of phase 3 will not continue as planned. Due to the spiking Covid-19 rates around the country New York is postponing indoor dining indefinitely. This comes on the heels of New Jersey delaying their indoor dining as well. This comes as a blow to restaurants and bars who were hoping to combine outdoor dining with reduced indoor capacity and return to profitability. As a result, the city is encouraging establishments to double down on outdoor dining but the open restaurants plan is an imperfect band-aid. If patrons will be barred from indoor dining, then the city must offer more financial help. The longer this goes on the less likely establishments will be able to reopen.
Certainly, the last thing that bars and restaurants need is heavy-handed enforcement. Cue Governor Andrew Cuomo who announced that State Police, the Department of Health (DOH), and State Liquor Authority (SLA) will be sent to patrol New York City as well as the surrounding suburbs. They will be monitoring mask-wearing and social distance compliance. SLA has been particularly aggressive during Covid-19 issuing large fines to establishments where people were drinking less than 100 feet away or if people purchased drinks without purchasing food. These places need flexibility, not fines.
Of course, bars and restaurants are not the only industries still in need of guidance as the state enters phases 3 and 4. It is unknown when gyms, malls, and movie theaters will be allowed to reopen. Though, it certainly seems like they will miss out on most of the summer. Which brings us to possibly the largest industry up in the air right now, schools. The state promised to release guidelines for reopening schools by the end of June and failed to do so with many parents and educators concerned that schools will not reopen in the fall. Certainly, there is still plenty of time between now and then but as all industries have learned, plans are changing by the day and seldom for the better.