New York City postpones reopening indoor dining as US cases rise

New York City will hold off on a plan to allow indoor dining at restaurants, becoming the latest city to modify reopening plans in response to a surge in coronavirus cases in some US states.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that the city, an early hotspot during the pandemic in the US, would not allow restaurants to offer indoor dining as it proceeds with the next phase of its reopening on July 6.

The return of customers to indoor bars and restaurants has been suspected of playing a role in spreading coronavirus through states in the south and west that were among the earliest to reopen their economies.

“We cannot go ahead at this time with indoor dining in New York City,” Mr de Blasio said at a press conference on Wednesday morning. “I was hopeful we could, but the news we have gotten from around the country gets worse and worse all the time.”

A growing list of cities and states have been taking action to slow the spread of the virus, in an effort to avoid a fresh spike of infections. New Jersey, which was also hit hard early in the pandemic owing to its proximity to New York, decided on Monday it would not allow indoor dining as part of its next phase of reopening.

Over the past week, Texas, Florida, Arizona and Colorado all ordered bars statewide to close, effectively throwing their reopening plans into reverse, while California ordered some counties to close their bars. Virginia said bars would not be part of the next reopening phase that began on July 1, while Delaware ordered bars near its beaches to close as part of a broader pause to its reopening plans.

A further 44,358 people in the US tested positive for coronavirus between Monday and Tuesday, according to data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project. That is just 15 cases shy of the record one-day increase on June 26. Through the month of June, the daily case rate in the US rose 105 per cent.

Texas reported a record one-day increase of 6,975 cases on Tuesday. More than 6,500 people are hospitalised there as of June 30, a peak for the state, which has increased pressure on its healthcare system.

Arizona, which has emerged as one of the new hotspots for the virus, also reported a record one-day rise in cases, with 4,878 people testing positive over the past day, the state’s health department said on Wednesday. Deaths, which tend to lag behind the rise in cases, increased by 88, also a record.

The data came in the wake of a warning on Tuesday from Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, that the US could see new cases soar to 100,000 a day without a concerted effort to turn the problem round.

In a sign the virus may be spreading beyond states in the west and south, and re-emerging in states that appeared to have brought it under control, 43 US states have seen their average daily case rate rise from a week ago, according to Financial Times analysis of Covid Tracking Project data. For June as a whole, 33 states experienced a rise in their daily rate of new infections.