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Outdoor Dining Reopens In Upstate New York

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo says outdoor dining can begin Thursday in upstate regions of the state that are now in Phase Two of reopening. 

The outdoor tables must be spaced six feet apart, and all staff must wear face coverings. Customers also have to wear masks or face coverings when not seated.

Cities in upstate New York are facing severe budget crunches due to revenue losses, including from bars and restaurants, over the months-long shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Binghamton Mayor Rich David, who is the first vice president of the New York State Conference of Mayors, said the early reopening for outdoor dining is “very encouraging” news and will help regain some of the economic progress that cities have made in recent years.

“It will certainly have a significant impact,” David said. “The number one contributor to New York state sales tax are bars and restaurants, so it will help the economy, it'll help local businesses and it'll help (our) finances as well. And it will get people back to work.”

The state’s restaurant association hailed the announcement. Melissa Fleischut, its president and CEO, said in a statement that they will hold up their end of the bargain by adhering to strict safety standards.

Downstate restaurant owners and their patrons will have to wait a bit longer for the outdoor dining option. The Hudson Valley and Long Island are expected to enter Phase Two next Wednesday.

Nassau County plans to close sections of county roads to provide extra space for outdoor dining. Several restaurants in Farmingdale were shut down last week when they opened premature to over 1,500 people.

Restaurants have stayed open with curbside pickup and federal loans, but owners say that does nothing for their unemployed waitstaff.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.
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