A surge in coronavirus infections prompted Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to announce a ban on indoor dining in New York City restaurants, which went into effect on Monday. Now, thousands of restaurants face an uncertain future as they brace for brutal winter months that could reduce business to new lows.
Restaurants across the city are moving to lay off waiters, servers and bartenders, throwing the workers’ lives in turmoil and presenting a new setback in New York’s economic recovery. Some restaurants will shut entirely for the season.
“Shutting indoor dining in the winter, when outdoor dining is less feasible, presents an extraordinarily challenging financial situation,” said Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance. He added that many have fewer resources than they did in the pandemic’s early months.
A survey from the New York State Restaurant Association of 6,000 restaurant operators in the state found that more than half said it would be unlikely their restaurants would still be in operation in six months without any government aid. The survey found 78 percent expected more layoffs over the next three months.
Serving customers at a reduced capacity provided a “sense of normalcy” for many restaurants, but it did not come close to making up for the amount of business lost in the pandemic, said Jonathan Forgash, the executive director of Queens Together, a restaurant group.
Sisay Kassa, the owner of Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant in Harlem, said: “Nobody is going to make a profit right now. It’s just surviving.”
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