NEW YORK - The city’s impending ban on indoor dining starts on Monday and that has some workers fearing job cuts and questioning the logic and fairness behind the decision.
For Inga Kuligina a hostess at Old Homestead Steak House in Chelsea, the city’s ban on indoor dining that starts Monday will mean the loss of dozens of customers, who she would have seated inside. With just 10 tables set up for outdoor dining, Kuligina fears she could be out of a job very soon.
What You Need To Know
- A citywide ban on indoor dining takes effect Monday. It is set to last at least two weeks
- Some workers at Old Homestead Steak House, which opened in 1868, wonder if their job will be cut due to the loss of indoor dining
- Some restaurants question why indoor dining is being eliminated if state numbers from contact tracing show just 1.4% of COVID-19 cases are coming from restaurants and bars, while 74% of new cases are coming from household gatherings
“They don’t need me here,” said Kuligina, “because there’s not much tables, and there’s not much work to do.”
Manager Jerome Bougherdani told NY1 the legendary steak house, which opened back in 1868, used to employ 20 servers prior to the pandemic. Yet, when indoor dining returned over the summer, reducing capacity to 25 percent, it wasn’t just steak that had to be cut.
“We’re the only ones that are going to be punished!” Bougherdani said, referring to the restaurant industry. “A lot of people are going to be unemployed, and a lot of families are going to suffer.”
Bougherdani told NY1 he can understand the need to shut down indoor dining in neighborhoods like Tottenville, on Staten Island, which data from New York City Health Department showed with a seven-day COVID positivity rate of over 12 and a half percent.
But what doesn’t make sense to him is why his steak house should face the same ban on indoor dining, when the COVID positivity rate for the zip code in Chelsea where the steak house is located has a seven-day positivity rate of just over 2%.
“I don’t think it’s fair at all actually,” Bougherdani said. “I think it’s also ridiculous.”
Another tough pill to swallow? State numbers from contact tracing show just 1.4% of COVID-19 cases come from restaurants and bars, while 74% of new cases come from household gatherings.
Some workers believe eliminating indoor dining takes away a safe alternative to gatherings at homes.
“I feel like it’s better if people are going to go to the restaurants where we can check the temperature and have social distancing,” saidKuligina. “It’s much more safe than if they do it at home. They’re not going to check the temperature. A person can come and everyone can get sick!”
Some customers who were dining indoors told NY1 part of the appeal of ordering from a nice steakhouse is the ambiance. And if they can’t dine inside, they may skip out on the experience entirely.