Oh, for heaven's sake!
In addition to banning people from eating indoors at New York City restaurants, the interpretation of a decree from Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration on Thursday night caused yet more consternation among small-business owners and would-be customers when it declared that people dining outdoors in the five boroughs would not be allowed to go indoors to use the rest rooms.
In other words, diners might be all dressed up with no place to go.
Any bets that if King Andrew were dining outside and felt the call of nature that he would be required to hold it until he got to his nearest cushy office?
The initial interpretation of the latest state crackdown, released publicly by Kapil Longani, counsel to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, stated that “Customers are not allowed to enter the inside of an SLA-licensed establishment for any reason while the guidance is in effect.”
So, asked one owner, “If my SLA-licensed establishment is offering outdoor dining, may I allow customers to use the bathroom inside?” “No,” Longani replied. “Customers may not enter the inside of the establishment for any reason.”
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, blasted the ruling as “another example of why restaurants and bars feel like government is purposely kicking them in the gut and then stopping on their hand when they’re already down.”
Today, city officials retreated from Langani's interpretation of the Cuomo edict, DeBlasio calling that interpretation a "mistake," and the State Liqour Authority (SLA) insisting in a statement that it wasn’t true and that “of course” restaurant owners could let people inside to use the facilities as long as the customers wear a face covering.
In a typical example of mutual finger-pointing between government overlords on the state and NYC levels, Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa said the dust-up was a result of the SLA using old language from an earlier Cuomo command that mandated bars and restaurants statewide must close by 10 p.m. when the agency posted information about the closing of indoor dining. That, coupled with the city failing to consult with the state before issuing the new guidelines, led to the bathroom debacle, she said.
“We thought it was common sense that when you say no one is allowed inside obviously that’s for dining purposes and not for the purposes of the bathroom,” DeRosa said during a briefing with the governor in Albany. The interpretation the city issued on Thursday was done "without consulting us or asking for clarification.”