New York City to resume indoor dining with restrictions on Sept. 30

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York City restaurants will be able to resume indoor service from September 30, with capacity limited to 25 percent, according to local media reports on Wednesday.

If there is no significant rebound in COVID-19 cases across the state before November 30, the capacity of diners can be increased to 50 percent. The state government will also increase the number of law enforcement personnel. Cuomo also published phone numbers to report restaurant violations and encouraged the public to help law enforcement.

"We want to thank New Yorkers for the increase in compliance," Cuomo said at a press briefing. "And because the compliance has gotten better we can now take the next step."

Restaurants and customers will be required to follow strict safety guidelines in this next phase.

Customers will have their temperatures taken at the door and must wear masks except while seated, and one member of each party must provide information for potential contact tracing purposes.

Restaurants must close by midnight and cannot offer bar service. They must also space tables 6 feet (1.83 meters) apart and meet air filtration requirements as specified by the state.

Moreover, Cuomo said the state will expand its law enforcement forces, with the New York City providing 400 people to join the force. But he said the expanded force is still not enough to cover all restaurants, so he urged communities and citizens to report restaurant violations.

Cuomo stressed the future of indoor dining depends on the city's infection rate. If it goes up, indoor dining will be paused again. If it does not, the capacity limit may increase to 50 percent.

According to local reports, there is a November 1 deadline to reassess capacity restrictions, but Cuomo said they could be eased at any point.

(Cover: A sign outside the restaurant welcomes customers, U.S., September 9, 2020. /CFP)