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Judge Denies Restaurants’ Attempt To Overturn NYC Dining Restrictions

Street dining on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn

A state judge has blocked two New York City restaurants’ attempt to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo's indoor dining restrictions in the city, saying the state has the right to pass laws to protect the public.

The owners of Bocelli Ristorante and Joyce’s Tavern, both in Staten Island, were seeking a preliminary injunction on rules that cap indoor dining at 25%, Bloomberg reports.

However, Judge Thomas Aliotta said rules have a “real and substantial relation to public health and safety within the city of New York." The restaurateurs were arguing they should be allowed to run at 50% capacity, as Staten Island is a more suburban area than the rest of the city.

Aliotta rejected that argument and said all five counties had to be treated the same.

“The 25% rule applies to Staten Island based on its population density, myriad connections to and geographical location within the City of New York,” he said, according to Bloomberg.

Restaurants have been allowed to serve patrons inside at a reduced capacity since Sept. 30, and outdoor dining started back in June. But as the weather is cooling, many business owners are worried that their business won't survive the winter.

“It’s not the climate where you can set up the patio every day,” Gerber Group Managing Partner Vincent Mauriello told Bisnow in September. “It’s going to be extremely difficult for restaurants to make a profit.”

New York City’s infection rate has increased, raising the possibility of more lockdowns. Cases of the coronavirus are spiking in New Jersey, Connecticut and upstate New York. In New York City, new infections have been above 1,000 for five days in a row, and Mayor Bill de Blasio said more restrictions could be ahead — including the closure of schools — if the situation does not improve.

“God forbid this continued and we had a full-blown second wave,” he said Monday, per The New York Times. “It means a lot more restrictions. Unfortunately, it could mean even having to shut down parts of our economy again.”