Restaurant owners and workers protest in Times Square against new regulations that ended indoor dining on December 15, 2020 in New York City.

Source: Ashe Schow

Following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D-NY) latest ban on indoor dining, restaurant owners in New York City took to Times Square to protest.

Newsweek reported that the New York State Latino Restaurant, Bar and Lounge Association (NYSRBLA) organized the protest, which came the day after Cuomo announced a new ban on indoor dining that would start on December 14. Restaurants would still be able to provide outdoor dining, but as winter approaches in the city, many restaurant owners have said that will be impossible.

“This city is killing us. You’re hurting a lot of New Yorkers,” said Tony Herbert, who represented the New York Multicultural Restaurant and Nightlife Chamber of Commerce, according to the outlet.

“We’ve got to protect everybody, but we also have to understand that our restaurants are one of the most important avenues of small business in our city,” Herbert added. “So, I say to the governor, I say to the mayor, get your act together now. We need our restaurants open now.”

The New York Post reported that the protest was attended by hundreds of “restaurant owners, workers and industry leaders.

“Save our restaurants! Save our jobs!” the protesters reportedly chanted as they marched from Father Duffy Square to Cuomo’s office in Midtown East.

Jeffrey Garcia, president of NYSRBLA, spoke to the crowd, explaining the dire circumstances faced by the community.

“The situation continues to get more and more dire, and the shutting down of indoor dining during the holidays, when New York City restaurants are providing the safety measures, is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said. “We need action immediately.”

The Post reported that New York’s “own contact tracing data shows restaurants and bars account for a mere 1.43 percent of recent known COVID-19 exposures.” Still, Cuomo has shut down indoor dining and suggested outdoor dining will solve restaurant’s problems, but the recent snowstorm showed that was not an option.

“We were so hopeful when indoor dining was allowed again to try to keep it afloat. But now that we’re unable to pay rent due to the shutdown, I’m afraid that I’m going to lose everything altogether,” said restaurant owner Sandra Jacques, whose restaurant, Inwood’s II Sole, was forced to let go about two dozen employees due to Cuomo’s coronavirus restrictions.

More from the Post:

A report from the New York State Restaurant Association found two-thirds of restaurants said they are likely to close by the end of the year without a comprehensive relief package that’s specifically for eateries, the NYSRBLA said in a news release.

A survey by the NYC Hospitality Alliance found nearly 87% of businesses couldn’t pay their full rent in August and 88% had to stiff their landlords in October — even with outdoor dining in full swing and indoor dining at 25% capacity. 

Andrew Rigie, the executive director of The Alliance, said at least 210,000 jobs were lost when restaurants were originally forced to shutter back in March and the gains the industry has made since will soon be erased with the closure of indoor dining. 

“Thankfully, due to limited indoor dining, outdoor dining, we’ve hired back about 100,000 people. But guess what? There’s tons of people still out of work and with our new shutdown, those 100,000 jobs could be back on the chopping block,” Rigie said.