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N.Y.C. Restaurants Face Bleak Winter With No Indoor Dining

Sisay Kassa, the owner of Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant in Harlem, said he thought that keeping people six feet apart inside, with a reduced capacity of 25 percent, was relatively safe.

“We’re not asking for 50 percent,” he said. “We are not expecting a lot.”

He said the business was struggling despite the addition of cabanas where patrons could sit outdoors.

“Nobody is going to make a profit right now,” he said. “It’s just surviving.”

Chris Field, 29, the general manager at Empellón Taqueria in the West Village, questioned officials’ blanket approach in banning indoor dining. Empellón has complied with coronavirus restrictions, he said, but some businesses have skirted regulations by building outdoor spaces that are fully enclosed.

“We play by the rules, and then it’s just shut down across the board,” Mr. Field said.

At Extra Virgin, Ms. Gaton said the restaurant had taken all of the necessary steps to reopen indoor dining safely, with employees wearing masks and gloves providing hand sanitizer to patrons. The restaurant put six feet between tables and bought partitions for $500 each that were placed throughout the restaurant.

“We want to do what we need to do to stay alive, but we need clear guidelines,” she said. “Give us the rules and enforce the rules, and the bad players can’t continue.”

Evelyn Simancas, 44, and her husband David Simancas, 55, returned on Saturday night to Maria’s — one of their favorite local spots for guacamole, steak and drinks — for their last chance to dine indoors before the shutdown. Ms. Simancas said a temperature check, socially distanced tables and diligent mask-wearing helped her feel safe inside.

The couple did not think indoor dining should end — they would prefer eating inside in cool weather.

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