As we cautiously begin to reopen the city, the finer details are still being worked out in an effort to more safely get businesses back up and running. This week, as New York City entered Phase 1 of reopening, Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered some new key points to restaurants and watering holes that aim to reopen their dining rooms and bar stools in Phase 3, which we'll be entering in the late summer unless we start seeing a second wave come in.
While Phase 2 — which we're expected to enter in late June, at the earliest — will allow for outdoor dining, indoor dining brings a bigger challenge due to the confined (and often cramped) spaces.
Here's the latest guidance, which falls under the "mandatory" column in the state's guidelines:
- All indoor and outdoor tables with seating for customers must be separated by a minimum of 6 ft. in all directions. Wherever distancing is not feasible between tables, physical barriers must be enacted between such tables. Barriers must be at least 5 ft. in height.
- Limit indoor capacity to no more than 50% of maximum occupancy, exclusive of employees. (This will not include outdoor diners.)
This comes in addition to the previously set guidelines, which includes staff wearing masks at all times, and diners wearing masks when not sitting at their table. Additionally, there's a 10-person cap per table.
The guidelines will be especially challenging for the city's small bars to follow, as they'll need to allow 6-feet between barstools (between separate parties). As Toby Cecchini, owner of Long Island Bar and the Rockwell Place, wrote in the NY Times, these restrictions "would give me four lonely seats across the entire run of each of my bars."
For our full guide on NYC's reopening, click here.