New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that the city will not proceed with indoor dining as part of its “Phase 3” reopening as planned, citing surges of positive coronavirus cases in states across the country.
De Blasio, during a press conference Wednesday, said that he had “tough news” to share, noting that leaders “have to be willing to make tough decisions.”
“Let the facts take us to the right decision. We know a lot of other areas in the country made decisions based on other than data…Florida, Texas, even California, that tried really hard to get it right,” he said, noting that it has become clear that “people going back to bars and restaurants indoors is the problem more and more.”
“I want to make very clear,” he continued. “We cannot go ahead at this point in time with indoor dining in New York City.”
De Blasio said that the city will continue to work with the state of New York “to figure out what is the exact right way to do this.”
“We have been in absolute unity with the state on the focus on data,” de Blasio said. “The data in this state, this city is getting better all the time, but data around the country is getting worse and worse…shockingly worse.”
De Blasio cited National Institute of Health Director Dr. Anthony Fauci’s warning earlier this week that the U.S. could see as many as 100,000 coronavirus cases a day if a current spike in cases does not subside.
De Blasio’s decision comes as states, including Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, have paused or backtracked their reopening plans as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has soared. In Arizona, health officials reported 3,858 more confirmed coronavirus cases Sunday, the most reported in a single day in the state so far and the seventh time in the past 10 days that daily cases surpassed the 3,000 mark.
Last week, de Blasio said the city was “on track” to begin its “Phase 3” reopening on Monday, July 6, which included indoor dining at a 50 percent capacity.
Last week, De Blasio noted that safety precautions would be in place, including diners wearing masks or face coverings until they are seated at their tables — which will be set six feet apart — while restaurant workers will be expected to wear their masks at all times.
But Wednesday, de Blasio said that “outdoor dining is working. Period," and encouraged New Yorkers to continue supporting local restaurants by dining outside.
“Outdoors is where we need to be to the maximum extent possible as we fight this disease,” de Blasio said, noting that New Yorkers now know “the power of doing things outdoors, the power of social distancing and the power of face coverings.”
Meanwhile, de Blasio announced that he would reopen New York City beaches Wednesday and that more than a dozen outdoor public pools would open by the end of July.