The True Reasoning Behind Postponing Indoor Dining in NYC – A Tale of Two Leaders
Today, there would be two announcements about how NYC would NOT be going forward with indoor dining for its entry into Phase 3 reopening on July 6. The first would come from Mayor Bill de Blasio during his near-daily press conference and the second would come over an hour later from NY Governor Andrew Cuomo during a press briefing. They would state the same thing, but to some extent differ a slight bit in the exact reasoning. I say that because of how Mayor answered one of my questions today.
In a nutshell, here’s what’s gone on.
For weeks the Governor’s expressed his concerns not merely over the state of the country’s health in relation to the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic, but as well with the lack of adherence to COVID-19 guidelines in New York City. Allowing the Big Apple food service industry to survive through the application of outdoor dining and the eventual chance to serve patrons indoors has been a pet project of the City Council and Mayor de Blasio (the extent of which is open to interpretation).
He announced yesterday, how he’d sent monitors to NYC from multiple enforcement agencies to examine the adherence of New Yorkers to social distancing rules, or rather the lack thereof. Why? Because if we can’t behave outdoors then how can we behave indoors? It’s a notion to be inferred from what he’s spoken during his briefings and something he’s clearly referenced during an interview yesterday with Pat Kiernan of NY1.
Governor Cuomo’s Response to Pat Kiernan (the full audio can be found near the bottom of this page)
When asked about why he was sending in State Police and State Liquor Authority,
“Because I’m trying to gauge how bad the non-compliance is. If the non-compliance is continuing, then we have to think about what we do on phase 3 which New York City is supposed to enter on Monday. If we already have a compliance issue, then opening up venues that will only further aggravate that issue would be a mistake.
We have a question on indoor dining. If you already have a problem, Pat, that you can’t control where you’re out of compliance with bars and sidewalks and groups drinking outside, then does it make sense to open indoor dining? Indoor dining across the country has shown to be problematic.
But tonight we’re going to be monitoring what’s happening with the compliance.”
A simpler approach to understanding the reasoning is this: The national 7-day average coronavirus cases surged 30% with 45 states being worse off than a week ago. Why is this? It’s because of human behavior, plain and simple! If a city cannot behave then why grant it greater freedoms?
“The good news is, our house is doing very well. The bad news is, the neighbor’s home is on fire,” said the Governor yesterday.
If the neighborhood’s on fire, then do you turn the knob on the gas stove? Especially, if you’ve got Dennis the Menace in the house?
So, this morning, the Mayor would be the first to announce the postponement of indoor dining during his press conference. Unfortunately, he would fail to understand why the Governor sent State Police plus Health Department and Liquor Authority monitors to the city yesterday.
The problem is exacerbated if you don’t understand what the problem is!
The Governor’s been saying it ad nauseum: Enforce, Enforce, Enforce. All the clues are there within all that he’s been saying since last week and beyond – clues indicating his displeasure with the cavalier attitude borne by some New Yorkers who’ve been congregating outside bars and restaurants without masks on.
Over an hour later, the Governor followed up with his own announcement about putting off indoor dining.
He would go on and on about the lack of compliance in the city and how easily the virus will spread due to such non-adherence.
“Their job, local government’s job, testing, tracing, enforcement of compliance. That is their main job. I take all the abuse for the opening and reopening: too slow, too fast. I don’t have a problem with that. They had one job. Testing, tracing and enforce the compliance. They must do it. If you have citizen compliance dropping, and you don’t have local governments enforcing— then you’re going to see the virus go up. Period,” said the Governor.
One plus one equals two. One plus one equals two. And you see it. If you open your eyes, you see the citizen compliance slipping. You see government compliance not correcting it. What’s going to happen? The virus is going to spread. It’s that simple; it’s that clear. That is the reality. The virus spreads… “
He would also speak about behaviors, and just as he’s mentioned so many times before, how we’re all responsible, individually and collectively for how we manage through the crisis.
The Governor is utterly concerned about the well being of New Yorkers. He’s shown that repeatedly. He’s the man. He’s the one in charge. The proverbial buck stops with him. He knows it and he reminds everyone else of it.
He recently revealed how the state’s always looking at other states’ metrics for the sake of knowing how to proceed in its recovery. Like duh. Yeah, that would figure. Yet, remember, not all governors are brilliant. Actually, some are working with half a brain; and others, even less.
So what’s the deal?
The Mayor’s reluctance to understand the crux of the problem, or rather admit that he even understands what it is. Not that we’re expecting an outright solution from him, no. Just say it and admit to it.
I asked him the following today. I hadn’t heard his earlier declaration about indoor dining being postponed – and of course, when I mention monitors, I’m referring to the State Police and other enforcement monitors the Governor had sent to NYC for observation.
“Regarding indoor dining, have you any clue what the Governor’s decision today might be? I mean, you think his monitors last night found something pleasing or displeasing?”
Mayor de Blasio:
“I want to separate the different issues. Look on indoor dining, what we’re all looking at, the State and the City, is the experience from the other parts of the country that has been unfortunately so negative and so consistent. Certainly let the Governor and his team speak for themselves but I believe we all share a concern that indoor dining has now become problematic. And it’s not a rule forever that we couldn’t do it, but it’s a postponement. That’s what I believe is right to do, and wait until we have evidence that we can do it safely. There’s a separate question about enforcing folks who are outdoors, and we all – we have a lot of civilian agencies that are constantly going to make sure that we do not have outdoor groupings and address them. It’s not perfect, but, overwhelmingly, let’s be clear, overwhelmingly New York City residents respect social distancing, wear their face coverings, don’t want to get each other sick. What I think we should be very careful about is that is not a role for police. It’s not a role for a city police or State Police to enforce social distancing. We learned that through experience and we are honest about it. We had to change that. We’re not going to do it that way. I don’t think the State Police should either.”
The Mayor states that indoor dining is a separate issue from the social distancing adherence. He fails to acknowledge what the Governor has stated – and as mentioned, it’s not a problem that exists just for the sake of being a problem. The cause and effect should be clear: Individual and group behaviors.
Yes, the Governor’s been speaking about air filtration repeatedly over the past days – but that’s only part of the problem (or solution). There’s also the matter of alcohol. When the question of outdoor dining was first being raised in late May, I asked the Mayor about any concerns over folks drinking and forgetting themselves.
“I’d like to ask about those restaurants with alcohol licenses, and I guess bars. Mr. Mayor, you’ve often spoken of New Yorkers doing the right thing, yet even when one is half intoxicated, it’s kind of hard to do the right thing. Are there any concerns about people individually and collectively forgetting themselves and doing that, which may defeat the ultimate aim of public safety?” I asked.
He gave a negligible answer that day. But you see, this is why the Governor also sent down monitors from the State Liquor Authority. People do in fact forget themselves when imbibing and it’s up to each respective bar and restaurant to see that folks are in line with what’s expected of them. But these poor business owners’ control over their patrons can only go so far.
The Governor was furious one weekend when wind of this sort of thing made its rounds – and he’s been concerned about it ever since.
Admittedly, Mayor de Blasio has tried his best methinks.
There was a time when he wanted the NYPD to go about enforcing social distancing rules with a soft touch – the results of which would be a forewarning of what was to come with the coming George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests and the ensuing curfew. Incidents of police brutality stemming from trying to enforce such guidelines are still clear in some folks’ minds. The Mayor would then steer clear of involving the police and turn to the use of so-called ambassadors.
Gotta tell you, no matter how many masks you throw at a person who’s drunk, they will still do their own thing. The more their blood alcohol level rises, the worse things get.
‘and so, the Governor today announced, “The state’s going to create its own enforcement capacity to supplement the local government’s enforcement.”
What exactly that means, we’re not sure. It’s apparent he’s not happy with how local government’s handling things.
Mind you, the title of this page references the “True Reasoning Behind Postponing Indoor Dining”. There’s only one person coming up with the true reasoning. It’s not the Mayor, it’s the Governor of the State of New York. Mr. Cuomo, as he’s indirectly or directly done many times in the past, made it abundantly clear today. The Mayor may choose NOT to see through with the opening of a particular sector, BUT in the end, it’s the Governor who gives the initial okay as to whether it’s something that can even be considered. Now, how much of that is legally true? I don’t know. I’m not a lawyer, I only play on on daytime TV. BUT, the Governor sure as heck believes it.
“Second problem, government is supposed to be enforcing compliance. That is the governmental role. And that is not happening to a sufficient basis. I have said from day one, we have been clear from day one. Local governments don’t have any legal authority to determine opening, reopening, of schools, businesses, restaurants, offices. That’s not what the local governments do. That’s a function of state government. All the openings and all the reopenings. They’re done all by the state government. Every county in the State of New York, every city in the State of New York. That’s my job,” said the Governor.
“Their job, local government’s job, testing, tracing, enforcement of compliance.”
In the end, there’s always the possibility that the Governor will require restaurants and other such indoor food service locales to make use of the HEPA filters he’s spoken of yesterday. Maybe after a little while, he’ll resend his troupe of enforcement personnel to NYC for another look? Maybe then, he’ll be pleased with what he sees and perhaps the rest of the country will have recovered somewhat from the massive COVID fire that’s been raging across so many states?
Here is the Governor’s conversation with Pat Kiernan of NY1 News
Following, is the Governor’s Press Briefing for July 1