“The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets.” – John D. Rockefeller
December 13 (Sunday) would be our last dining date at the Q Town Asian Cuisine Inc., a popular Chinese seafood restaurant on corner Whitney and Broadway Streets in Elmhurst, Queens as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered the suspension of indoor dining in New York City beginning December 14 (Monday) as hospitalizations related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continued to climb in the Empire State.
He tweeted: “This is painful. So many restaurants are struggling. But we can’t allow this virus to reassert itself in our city.”
Since October, we’ve been dining at the restaurant every Monday starting at 6 o’clock in the evening.
As regular customers, we strictly followed the social distancing and other protocol while inside the restaurant.
From the restaurant, we hopped to the “inasalan,” a makeshift kiosk selling charcoal-baked animal intestines, lamb, pork, and other meats located across the street.
The curfew inside the restaurant, which had been set at 10 o’clock in the evening since indoor dining was temporarily permitted, will no longer take effect once the suspension of indoor dining commences.
“The hospitalizations continue to increase in New York City,” Cuomo announced December 11.
“We said that we would watch it. If the hospitalizations didn’t stabilize, we would close indoor dining. It has not. We’re going to close indoor dining on Monday.”
The daily number of hospital admissions for COVID-19 hit 205, climbing above the threshold of 200, according to a fresh data released by city hall.
The number of new cases on a seven-day rolling average is reportedly 2,559.
The seven-day average is at 5.35 percent, which is also reportedly above the city’s threshold of 5 percent.
Only outdoor dining, takeout and delivery will be continued, it was learned.
The announcement was a big blow for the restaurant industry, which has been struggling since the beginning of the pandemic in March.
It was only in September that restaurants were allowed to reopen their dining rooms at 25 percent capacity.
There were fears that the latest shutdown would lead to layoffs.
“It will be the last straw for countless more restaurants and jobs,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement. “And the restrictions begin on Monday with zero economic support for small businesses that are already struggling to survive.”
A new survey from the New York Restaurant Association found 54 percent of New York restaurants do not expect to survive the next six months without some form of federal relief, compared to 37 percent of restaurants nationwide.
The announcement came as new contact tracing data released by the governor found that bars and restaurants were responsible for just 1.43 percent of the spread.
Household gatherings were reportedly the biggest culprit, with 74 percent of the spread linked to people meeting in their homes.
Indoor dining, meanwhile, will be allowed to continue in other parts of the state where the infection rates are climbing.
“New York City is different,” Cuomo said. “A high transmission rate in a dense environment is different. You can’t eat and drink and keep your mask up.”
Cuomo called on the federal government to provide relief for restaurants in a stimulus plan that still remains stalled in Congress.
He said the state would extend its moratorium on commercial evictions.
But beyond that restaurants have been left with little help as they’ve been forced to bear the brunt of coronavirus restrictions.
The city has allowed for expanded outdoor dining, but it remains to be seen how successful it will be as the temperatures continue to drop.
Cuomo also announced gyms and hair salons in orange zones will now be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity with weekly testing of staff.
He said those businesses are responsible for only about 0.06 percent of the spread.
“Gyms are one of the lowest known spreaders now, by the facts,” Cuomo said.
As for the race to vaccinate people, the governor said a state panel has signed off on the FDA’s decision to approve a COVID-19 vaccine.
Cuomo said in addition to the Pfizer vaccine, which is expected to arrive this weekend, 346,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine will be delivered the week of December 21.
The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two dailies in Iloilo./WDJ