Half of the bars and restaurants in New York City could close permanently due to lockdown orders spurred by the coronavirus in March.
“The industry is challenging under the best of circumstances, and many eateries operate on tight margins,” said State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. “Now they face an unprecedented upheaval that may cause many establishments to close forever.”
The state audit, released by DiNapoli, projects that nearly a third to a half of the restaurants and bars in the Big Apple could be permanently closed within six months.
DiNapoli said that the permanent closures could mean 150,000 jobs gone from the city’s economy.
Starting Wednesday, city restaurants were allowed to open their doors to indoor dining at 25% capacity following six months of lockdowns.
“While 25% occupancy is better than nothing, it is not sustainable for the business to operate profitably,” said Shu Chowdhury, a restaurant operations expert. “It is, however, a good start to test safety procedures to smoothly and safely increase capacity as we approach colder weather that will reduce public interest in outdoor dining.”
“Public safety is and should remain a priority, but in the near future, restaurants must be able to reopen at a minimum of 50% with extended hours in order to move towards safe and profitable operations.”
Democratic leadership remained steadfast on lockdown orders over the last six months, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio stressing that it was unsafe for New Yorkers to go about daily life in a pre-coronavirus manner.
Earlier this week, Cuomo warned of “drastic alternatives” if a new surge in infection rates in some New York areas don’t come down.
“The key with these clusters is to jump on them quickly, attack them from all sides,” Cuomo said. “This Brooklyn cluster, we have to get to the bottom of it. Data is key, and we have to act on the data.”
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