NEW YORK (WABC) -- Governor Andrew Cuomo said that if the regional hospitalization rate does not stabilize in five days, indoor dining in New York City will close.
In the rest of the state, indoor dining will go to 25% if it doesn't improve.
The New York State Health Department ordered hospitals to increase bed capacity by 25%. Cuomo said they could request a 50% increase, but they don't see the need to do so just yet.
Governor Cuomo revealed the metric that will close regions down: "If after a surge and flex region's 7-day average hospitalization growth rate shows that within three weeks the region will hit critical hospital capacity, we enact NY Pause."
Critical is considered 90% of the hospital capacity.
"CDC came out with additional guidance on Friday and we are going to follow that additional guidance, which is basically more caution for indoor dining," Cuomo said. "We are going to watch the hospitalization rate over the next five days. If that hospitalization rate doesn't stabilize, which frankly I don't expect it to. I think Dr. Fauci is right, you've seen the Thanksgiving wave is just starting to break, then the Christmas, Hanukkah wave is going to start. So I don't see it."
Experts predicted a surge of COVID-19 infections as millions of people ignored warnings against holiday travel. That surge is just beginning, and may not let up for six weeks.
"Without substantial mitigation, the middle of January can be a really dark time for us," Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
The governor went on to say that the state would give the restaurants a few days to reorient.
"You could say Monday if the rate doesn't stabilize. Forget the indoor dining. Let's look at the big picture. We are looking at hospitalization capacity. If we don't get the rate under control and you are going to overwhelm your hospitals, then we will have to go back to shut down," he said.
For restaurant owners like Jeremy Wladis, who owns three restaurants, the timing could hardly be worse.
"It's another tragedy on top of the tragedy which, we're all dealing with," Wladis said. "I thought it was inevitable two or three weeks ago. Now, I'm pretty confident that that's likely to happen."
"Another forced government closure of New York City restaurants will cause an irreversible harm on even countless more small businesses and the hundreds of thousands of workers they employ, especially if it is not coupled with financial relief," said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance.
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