NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A decision on whether indoor dining will be permitted during the pandemic will happen this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio clarified on Wednesday morning.
"I think it's our responsibility to give (restaurants) as clear an answer in the month of September as possible, of where we are going," he said. "If there can be a timeline, if there can be a set of standards for reopening, we need to decide that in the next few weeks and announce it, whether it is good news or bad news."
De Blasio said indoor bars and nightclubs are more problematic for virus resurgence than indoor restaurants, but those "are still really sensitive" also.
"Indoor bars, indoor nightclubs have been particularly intense nexuses for resurgences around the country, around the world right now," he said. "That's a very big concern."
The mayor added the decisions about reopening are always going to be about health and safety first.
"That's why we've been so careful with this issue," de Blasio said.
The mayor's comments come two days after both he and Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested that indoor dining in the city may not happen any time soon.
The pressure to reopen indoor dining is intensifying as New Jersey prepares to reopen indoor dining with limited capacity starting Friday.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson issued a statement in favor of resuming indoor dining with precautions.
"It's time to allow indoor dining in New York City with reduced capacity and clear guidance to ensure social distancing and safety," he said. "This is crucial for restaurant owners, who have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic and the resulting drop in tourism. Summer is winding down, and they need to begin planning for the colder months. Of course, we will continue to monitor the City's COVID-19 rates, just as we must for all of our businesses. We know that the restaurant industry employs many New Yorkers, including many immigrants. Its health and well-being are imperative to our city. The rest of the state has been allowed to reopen their restaurants for indoor dining, and New Jersey is allowing indoor dining come Friday. Now is the time to allow it in New York City. Our restaurants and our City's economy can't wait."
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, issued a statement in support of Speaker Johnson calling for indoor dining to resume in New York City.
"Restaurants across New York City have been financially (devastated) for six months since the start of the pandemic," he said. "With New Jersey resuming indoor dining on Friday and restaurants elsewhere across New York state having safely served customers indoors for months, the NYC Hospitality Alliance, restaurant owners from across the five boroughs, industry leaders, members of the State Senate, City Council and now Speaker Johnson have all called for an immediate plan to resume indoor dining. We're thankful that Speaker Johnson is urgently protecting thousands of small businesses from permanent closure and preventing losses of tens of thousands of industry jobs, and we stand with his call to action to allow indoor dining to safely resume in New York City."
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