Restaurants, bars temporarily close as variant spreads through New York City
Restaurants citywide have been calling on elected officials to help countless eateries that are on the brink of closure due to financial difficulties that have worsened throughout the length of the pandemic – a situation now worsening as the Omicron variant spreads throughout the boroughs.
The NYC Hospitality Alliance called on elected officials Tuesday to advance a number policy proposals that they say are necessary to help the city's restaurant, bar, and nightlife industries through uncertain times caused by COVID, including offsetting the cost of COVID sick days employers must pay, offering rapid tests to restaurants and replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization fund.
Nationwide, the Independent Restaurant Coalition has also called on the federal government to offer relief, saying Tuesday that 86% of restaurants that have not received grant relief are at risk of closure if Congress does not replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
"We shouldn't be surprised by what we're seeing – the nearly 200,000 restaurants that have applied for but have not yet received the RRF told us they were out of time months ago," says Erika Polmar, executive director of the IRC. "The latest COVID-19 surge will be the last straw for many restaurants and bars struggling with back rent, debt, and reduced consumer demand. These small businesses are being forced to choose between making payroll and keeping their staff and community safe during this surge."
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act, being pushed by independent eatery owners nationwide, would provide an additional $60 billion in funding for the restaurant, bar, and nightlife industries.
Restaurants have also shared concerns created by the vaccine and mask mandates hurting businesses further.
But as the Omicron variant spreads, restaurants are once again struggling with COVID cases and exposures on top of their dire financial situations, leading many restaurants to temporarily close as staff recuperates, or even to wait out the spread of the variant.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on the Brian Lehrer show Friday that there is no plan to shut down businesses despite the spread of the variant, saying the great danger is shutdowns and restrictions, and that the city must instead focus on getting more people vaccinated and implementing more mandates aggressively.
"The more we vaccinate, the more we can get through this. And the great danger here is shutdowns and restrictions, because that would really destroy in so many ways people's livelihood," the mayor says. "And it would, I think, after everything people have been through, it would be traumatizing. We need to focus on vaccination radically, you know, use the mandates to the fullest. That's not just here, that's all over the country."
News 12 is keeping a list of Bronx and Brooklyn restaurants announcing temporary closures due to the spread of the Omicron variant. If you own, work at, or know of any establishment affected by the variant, let us know.
Bar Meridian, located in Prospect Heights, announced a closure through Dec. 27 due to COVID-related staffing shortages and concerns for the community. The bar says that it will monitor the situation and take actions to keep staff and guests safer when reopening.
The Breakers, a laidback bar in Williamsburg with outdoor seating, announced Monday that it will be closed for the next few days without a specific reopening date, via Instagram.
Cozy Royale, a Williamsburg-based bar, says it has made the decision to close until Dec. 27 to keep staff safe as COVID spreads.
Daughter, a café in Crown Heights, reopened Tuesday after multiple staff members underwent PCR testing. To give staff members a break, they will be following new holiday hours through Dec. 27.
Di An Di, a contemporary Vietnamese restaurant in Greenpoint, reopened on Saturday after a temporary closure due to a COVID exposure within restaurant staff. While it reopened for a few days, the restaurant did announce on Instagram that it will also close through Dec. 20 through Jan. 3 to give staff time off.
Esme, a small restaurant in Greenpoint, announced its temporary closure via Instagram Monday. Its reopening date is not clear.
Fero, an Italian restaurant based in Bushwick, announced on Instagram an early holiday closure beginning Saturday Dec. 18, and a reopening date of Dec. 29, due to new COVID protocols the restaurant is putting in place.
Love, Nelly, a bakery based in Bushwick, announced an early closure on Dec. 15 due to a vaccinated staff member having a breakthrough COVID case. A few days later, on Dec. 19, the bakery announced another temporary closure due to being understaffed and to give the team a chance to rest.
Ugly Baby, a Thai eater in Carroll Gardens, announced on Instagram on Thursday that it will be closed from Dec. 16 through Jan. 1 due to the surge of COVID cases in the city.
Nite Nite, a restaurant in East Williamsburg, will remain closed through Dec. 28.
Pearl's Social & Billy Club announced Sunday that several members of its staff and patrons recently tested positive for COVID, while others were having a difficult time finding PCR testing sites. Owners say they will look to reopen on Monday, Dec. 27.
Union Pool, a Williamsburg-based bar, posted on Instagram Monday that its temporary closure, with the plan to reopen on Monday, Dec. 27.
Win Son Bakery, a Taiwanese restaurant in East Williamsburg, announced Monday that it will be open for take-out and delivery only through Thursday, Dec. 23. It will reopen for indoor dining on Tuesday, Dec. 28.