New York City could see up to half its restaurants and bars close permanently in the next six months because of the coronavirus pandemic, a top state official warned.
A shocking new report says that could cost the city up to 150,000 jobs in an industry rocked by the economic fallout of Covid-19 and public health restrictions.
The devastating news was revealed in an audit made public by the state’s comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on Thursday.
Restaurants have been seating customers outside for months and indoor dining only returned on Wednesday, but at 25 per cent of capacity.
Mr DiNapoli’s report states that in 2019 the industry was responsible for employing 317,800 people, paid out $10.7 billion in wages and accounted for $27 billion in taxable sales.
“The industry is challenging under the best of circumstances, and many eateries operate on tight margins,” said Mr DiNapoli.
“Now they face an unprecedented upheaval that may cause many establishments to close forever.”
The report also states that at the height of the pandemic three-quarters of those employed in the industry found themselves out of work.
“It’s important that the state and city continue to be creative and bolster the industry,” said DiNapoli.
“The city’s decision to extend outdoor dining year-round to help keep restaurants afloat is a step in the right direction along with opening for indoor dining.”
New York coronavirus hospitalisations up 73 per cent since September
Mr Cuomo announced on Saturday that 826 people were hospitalised with the virus at present, compared to 474 at the same point in September, the Times Union reported.
At that rate, New York has seen both a 73 per cent rise in hospital admissions for those who have tested positive for the coronavirus, and the highest number since 15 July.
Of those admissions, 186 coronavirus patients were in an intensive care unit (ICU) on Saturday, compared to 120 ICU admissions at the same point in September.
“They are in those geographic areas and anyone in those geographic areas are more likely to come in contact with the virus,” he said in a statement. “I understand how important it is to their culture and religion. I also understand that it, as a matter of fact, jeopardizes human life.”
“We must all continue to wear our masks, wash our hands, remain socially distant, and above all, stay New York tough,” Mr Cumo added.
New York’s coronavirus deaths have, despite an increase in hospital admissions, remained low, with five recorded on Saturday.
Sunday, meanwhile, marked the stabilisation of a seven-day streak in rising coronavirus cases, which had risen from 618 to 826 in the space of a week. And on Sunday, 820 positive cases were confirmed in the state.
It comes several months after New York became the epicentre of the United States’ coronavirus pandemic, which has now killed almost 2150,000 Americans and infected over 7.7 million, according to John Hopkins University data.