Petition to overturn indoor dining restrictions squashed by judge

Two Staten Island restaurants sought to challenge Cuomo’s 25% capacity limit


New York City restaurant owners who were hoping to see indoor dining capacity expanded are out of luck.

A state judge upheld Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 25 percent limit on indoor restaurant capacity in the five boroughs, Bloomberg News reported. Two Staten Island restaurants, Bocelli Ristorante and Joyce’s Tavern, had filed a lawsuit in September, arguing that they should be able to operate at 50 percent capacity, like restaurants located elsewhere in the state.

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In a decision Monday, Judge Thomas P. Aliotta said that Cuomo’s limits have a “real and substantial relation to public health and safety within the city of New York.”

The restaurants “are not similarly situated to restaurant and bar owners in Westchester or Long Island based upon the demographics of the populations being similar, i.e., middle class suburbia,” Aliotta said. “The 25 percent rule applies to Staten Island based on its population density, myriad connections to and geographical location within the City of New York. All five counties have been treated equally.”

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Other restaurants have similarly sued in attempts to overturn restrictions. In August, more than 300 restaurants filed a class-action lawsuit, demanding the city and state fork over $2 billion for banning indoor dining. In September, a bar sued against the midnight curfew.

The pandemic has been a death knell for many eateries, particularly those that had already been subject to high rent payments.

Outdoor dining has been extended indefinitely in New York City, and as the months grow colder, establishments are constructing tents and buying heat lamps to keep customers comfortable. However, experts have said that dining outdoors in bubbles or tents limits airflow, making it not too different from eating indoors.

[Bloomberg] — Sasha Jones