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NYC bans indoor dining as virus cases rise

Indoor dining restrictions will be reinstated indefinitely in New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced as coronavirus cases and hospitalisations continue climbing in the city and throughout the US state.

As of Monday, only take-out orders and outdoor dining will be allowed in the city, the governor said at a news conference in Albany.

The Democrat had been hinting at a clampdown on indoor dining for a week, saying he was waiting to see if hospitalisation rates stabilised.

They have not, and Cuomo said that despite the economic pain to one of the city’s biggest and most vital industries, he needed to act.

“In New York City, you put the CDC caution on indoor dining together with the rate of transmission and the density and the crowding, that is a bad situation,” he said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he supported Cuomo’s decision.

“This is painful. So many restaurants are struggling. But we can’t allow this virus to reassert itself in our city,” he said on Twitter.

The governor’s order came despite opposition from the beleaguered restaurant industry, which warned of holiday season lay-offs at a time when the federal government has yet to pass additional COVID-19 relief.

“It will be the last straw for countless more restaurants and jobs,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance.

“The restrictions begin on Monday with zero economic support for small businesses that are already struggling to survive.”

Cuomo acknowledged the hardship restaurants were facing but said, “It’s in everyone’s interest to get the virus under control, don’t overwhelm the hospitals, don’t overwhelm the positivity rate”.

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