Embattled New York City restaurant owners say Governor Andrew Cuomo has left them in the dark about whether he will make good on his promise to double indoor dining capacity this weekend.
Owners are begging Cuomo to send them a sign as thousands of the city's eateries are on the brink of closure after more than eight months of crushing coronavirus restrictions.
The governor allowed indoor dining to resume at 25 percent capacity on September 30 with a goal to increase to 50 percent on November 1 if infection rates remained low.
But as that date approaches in just five days amid a spike in cases across parts of Brooklyn and Queens, many restaurateurs fear that Cuomo will delay the forthcoming capacity expansion - even though some have already spent money preparing for it.
'I think we would have heard by now if indoor dining was going to expand by November first. People need time to prepare,' restaurant consultant Donny Evans told the New York Post.
'Restaurateurs are scared. Without expanded indoor dining, there will be a tsunami of closings.'
New York City restaurant owners say Governor Cuomo has left them in the dark about whether he will allow them to increase indoor dining capacity to 50 percent on November 1
Cuomo allowed indoor dining to resume at 25 percent capacity on September 30 with a goal to increase to 50 percent on November 1 if infection rates remained low. But as that date approaches in just five days, many restaurants fear that Cuomo will delay the forthcoming capacity expansion. Pictured: Spaced out diners at Rosa Mexicano restaurant
Advocates for the restaurant industry have warned of a 'tsunami of closures' if indoor dining isn't expanded to 50 percent soon. Pictured: Eliza's Local on St Marks Place was forced to close permanently after months of crippling coronavirus restrictions
Cuomo announced his tentative timeline for 50 percent indoor dining capacity on September 25, when New York City's seven-day moving average for new coronavirus cases stood at 385, according to city health data.
But in the weeks after his announcement the infection rate began to climb, fueled by spikes in nine zip codes across Brooklyn and Queens that were subsequently forced to roll back reopenings.
Cuomo eased restrictions in some of the hotspot neighborhoods last week but several in Brooklyn - including Borough Park, Mapleton and Midwood - remain in the 'red zone'.
As of Sunday the seven-day average for new cases across the city stood at 355.
While that number is lower than most other major cities in the US, Cuomo still appears reluctant to increase indoor dining capacity, restaurant owners and industry lobbyists say.
The New York Hospitality Alliance (NYHA) is leading the effort to convince Cuomo to increase capacity as planned - with the exception of hotspot areas.
'We are advocating for 50 percent occupancy in non-red-zone areas, with potential modifications in yellow and orange zones,' NYHA Executive Director Andrew Rigie told the Post.
'Outside of those zones, the infection rates remain low, so we're hopeful we can safely increase to 50 percent like the rest of the state.'
'Restaurants will continue to close even with 50 percent occupancy but it's still more helpful than only having 25 percent.'
The 25 percent capacity limit has drastically reduced the amount of money restaurants - many of which struggled to turn a profit when packed - can make.
While eateries were able to increase revenue with expanded outdoor dining spaces over the summer, plunging temperatures through the fall have made patrons desperate for tables indoors.
A representative for Cuomo's office did not directly answer questions about whether indoor dining capacity would be increased by November 1.
Administration Spokesperson Jack Sterne told DailyMail.com: 'From the beginning of this pandemic, we have made decisions based on the data and science, using a metrics-driven approach.
'As cases surge across the country and with the threat of a second wave on the horizon, we are continuing with this cautious, science-based approach so we can protect our progress and avoid