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NY casinos can reopen Sept. 9, with conditions

Casinos in New York will be allowed to reopen next Wednesday, Sept. 9, as long as they have a sufficient air filtration system and limit the number of people allowed in the facility at one time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

Table games won’t be allowed unless casinos can figure out how to create barriers between players, and masks will be required at all times, he said.

“Casinos can open Sept. 9 on the condition that they have the enhanced air filtration system in place before they open,” Cuomo said.

Customers will be required to social distance from each other, and drink service won’t be allowed on the floor of the casino. Those facilities will likely have to increase staffing levels to ensure compliance with those rules, Cuomo said.

There would also be no food service allowed at casinos in New York City because indoor dining is still prohibited in the five boroughs, Cuomo said. City leaders, including City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, have asked the state to approve indoor dining in recent days.

“It’s time to allow indoor dining in New York City with reduced capacity and clear guidance to ensure social distancing and safety,” Johnson said in a statement Wednesday.

Cuomo, on Thursday, said he also wants to see indoor dining allowed in New York City, but that officials need to come up with a safe plan for that change. He claimed the state has already recorded compliance issues with bars and restaurants over outdoor dining and take-out.

“I want to open the restaurants in New York City. I don’t know how we’re going to do the compliance and, by the way, I am open to any suggestions,” Cuomo said.

The state has formed a special task force between the State Liquor Authority and the State Police that’s been monitoring compliance in bars and restaurants across the state, largely in New York City, but Cuomo said they don’t have the resources to oversee indoor dining.

That would be up to the New York City Police Department and local health officials in the five boroughs, Cuomo said. He claimed that city officials, including the NYPD, haven’t been enforcing the state’s rules and guidance since restaurants reopened in late June.

The New York State Restaurant Association said Thursday that almost two-thirds of restaurants in New York were likely to close by the end of the year without more support from the state and local governments, including an authorization of indoor dining in New York City.

“We are now asking the Governor, the state Legislature and those at the federal level to simply help us survive,” said Melissa Fleischut, the group’s president. “Without further assistance, the restaurant industry as we know it could be gone in a New York minute.”

Indoor dining is allowed in every other region of the state, including Western New York, where the infection rate has been above 1% for the last several days. Some cases have been linked to a food processing plant, but there also appears to be some level of community spread.

Cuomo said local officials in the region should ramp up enforcement efforts to make sure residents are complying with the state’s rules — both at businesses and in public. He also reminded individuals to continue wearing masks and distancing from each other.

"I think they have to take this very seriously. I think the local governments really have to step up their enforcement and compliance,” Cuomo said.

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