NY Governor Cuomo Brings New York City a Step Closer to Resumption of Indoor Dining
In a nutshell: Governor today says, Hey! Show me some sort of compliance enforcement mechanism and we can talk about reopening restaurants.
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo today stated that a force made up of NYC regulatory compliance officers would be enough for the sake of reopening indoor dining.
The declaration came during his press briefing this morning.
He pointed out what the NY State task force – charged with overseeing the compliance of NYC bars and restaurants – was comprised of: Health inspectors, environmental inspectors, industry inspectors.
It’s a followup to that which he mentioned last Thursday. On September 3, the Governor suggested that a police force of maybe 4,000 officers would be enough to discuss the recommencement of indoor dining in NYC. Such a task force would be assigned to enforcing compliance amidst participating restaurants.
Mr. Cuomo outlined the concerns that a massive reopening of indoor dining would bring about. That is, in consideration of all the problems brought on by non-compliant bars and restaurants during the outdoor dining initiative. Well over a hundred restaurants have lost their liquor licenses and at least hundreds of violations have been issued.
New Yorkled anticipates a favorable response from NYC local government. Surely, the Governor’s mention today goes a considerable distance in making COVID-19 compliance enforcement more achievable than it was when the Governor was talking about actual law enforcement involvement last week.
Although, interestingly enough, the subject was neither mentioned by NYC Mayor de Blasio nor brought up by the media during his press conference today.
Following is the video of the Governor discussing indoor dining. The video and transcript (found farther below) comes courtesy of the Office of the Governor of the State of New York.
Transcript of the above video:
“On restaurants, in New York City, I’m very aware of the economic pain that restaurants are dealing with. It’s bad for the restaurant owner. It’s bad for the staff, the sheriff, the waiters. The entire team that works there. We have experience in this area. We opened bars, and it turned out to be a nightmare. There were many violations and there was very little ability to police the violations, to enforce the compliance. I talked about this every day for two months. I beseeched the local governments to help. They didn’t. We then put together the State, SLA, State Police Task Force. And we did local bar enforcement. As you saw earlier, we did about 5,000 visits in the past couple of days. That is the maximum capacity for the State Task Force. If you now increase indoor dining, you are going to have to have a compliance and enforcement function. If you go to indoor dining, you are roughly doubling the number of places that you’re going to have to monitor.
There would be about another 10,000 establishments in New York City that could do indoor dining. You know you had a bad experience with bars. You know that you’re at your maximum in terms of enforcement capacity. You’re now going to double the number of establishments that you need to monitor. How do you do that? That’s the conundrum that we face. You also know that when we opened indoor dining in Upstate New York, we had issues. When we opened indoor dining, we had clusters in Upstate New York. This is not without risk. Right? We’re managing risk. But there is no zero risk. So we know in the indoor dining is problematic from our own experience in Upstate New York.
We know there’s a risk of noncompliance because we went through it with bars. We know the local governments were very slow to provide additional enforcement. We know the state had to step in to do the enforcement and we know that the state is that the maximum capacity for enforcement. That’s the issue that we’re dealing with. I would need additional enforcement capacity from local governments. And the additional enforcement is not that complicated to function. Right? It could be a local police department or it could be local health inspectors.
This is not vis-a-vis the public – it’s vis-a-vis the establishment owner. If you own a restaurant, and let’s say the indoor capacity is 25 percent. If you are in the restaurant and it is exceeding 25 percent, you’re not out of compliance, the restaurant owner’s out of compliance. It can be a health inspector. We have on our task force now, on the state side, environmental inspectors, industry inspectors. It is any regulatory compliance officer who could be detailed to do this. If we have the enforcement mechanism in place, then we can talk about opening restaurants. It would be negligent and reckless to open indoor dining, knowing that you have issues in Upstate New York, knowing that compliance is going to be a problem, and knowing that you have no enforcement mechanism. And we’re still working through that because I believe local governments could help us accomplish this goal if they wanted to.”