Al fresco (outdoor) dining returned this morning in New York City and Long Island as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Phase 2. Cuomo made the announcement during a press conference on Wednesday. Most restaurateurs heard about the news on Thursday and have been scrambling over the weekend to prepare for reopening this morning.
Official announcements are maintained at https://nyc.gov/openrestaurants. Playgrounds and hair salons are also reopening today in the city. Bloomberg reporters operate a live tracker of all NYC reopenings.
Good Morning America broadcast Manhattan residents enjoying breakfast outdoors this morning on live television. “After 100 days, New York City reopens for haircuts, outdoor dining,” celebrated Reuters. “The triumphant return of Sunday suppers al fresco #phase2 #summerinthecity #nyc @ Hudson Yards New York,” posted one resident to Instagram.
“Phase Two of reopening is officially underway, New York City!” tweeted Mayor Bill de Blasio. “In-store retail, offices, hair salons, barbershops and outdoor dining are back for business. When you’re out and about remember: Face coverings + social distancing are still essential. Be safe out there.”
Because of the high population density of New York City, indoor dining is still not allowed until the city progresses to Phase 3. Concerns remain about ventilation systems like air conditioning spreading respiratory droplets and aerosolized coronaviruses. Only 27,000 restaurants are permitted this week to serve diners outside.
The Associated Press summarized NYC reopenings aptly, “For the first time in three months, New Yorkers are able to dine out, though only at outdoor tables. Shoppers can once again browse in the city’s destination stores. Shaggy heads can get haircuts. Cooped-up kids can finally climb playground monkey bars instead of apartment walls. Office workers can return to their desks, though many haven’t yet.”
Mayor de Blasio claims that today’s resumption of outdoor dining will prevent 5,000 restaurants from closing and save 45,000 jobs.
Polls show that consumer behavior has shifted radically during the last six weeks in favor of restaurant patronage. On May 3, a nationally representative survey showed that 78% of consumers felt uncomfortable dining out. A few weeks later in Port Charlotte, Florida, a 1,300-vote poll revealed that still over 65% of respondents were unwilling to venture outside their home for a meal. One month later, a survey of that same group revealed that less than 33% of respondents were still unwilling to venture outside their home for a meal.
As of yesterday, domestic OpenTable reservations across the U.S. remain 41% lower than June 21, 2019. A total 119,923 U.S. residents have died of COVID-19 from among 2,275,645 confirmed cases. Since yesterday, 27,616 new cases and 208 deaths have been tracked by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.