- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2020

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has suggested restaurants will not be able to resume indoor dining until a vaccine for the coronavirus is developed next year.

During a press conference Monday, the Democratic socialist mayor dismissed a reporter’s concerns that “99 percent” of eateries could close once the city’s outdoor dining program shuts down Oct. 31, and that “we’ll all be eating and drinking at Applebee’s” as a result.

“I think New York City has so many great neighborhood restaurants that I don’t think in the end we’re only going to be going to Applebee’s,” the mayor responded. “I really don’t.”

Mr. de Blasio acknowledged the lockdowns have been “really, really tough” for some restaurant owners but that others have been able to stay afloat due to takeout and delivery sales and the city’s outdoor dining program. The mayor has indicated that outdoor dining could be extended beyond the current Oct. 31 deadline, but the approaching winter months have cast that solution in doubt.

“Is there a way where we can do something safely with indoor dining? So far, we have not had that moment, honestly,” the mayor said Monday. “We’ve been real straightforward about it. We have not had the opportunity to do it safely. We’re going to keep looking for sure.

“I pray for and expect a vaccine in the spring that will allow us all to get more back to normal,” he continued. “But I will absolutely tell you, we’re going to keep looking for that situation where we can push down the virus enough where we would have more ability to address indoor dining. We’ll have more to say on that in the coming days. But it would take a huge step forward to get to that point, that’s the truth.”

Meanwhile, gyms in New York City are set to open Wednesday, with some restrictions prohibiting indoor group classes and pools.

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