As many as half of New York City's bars and restaurants may close for good in the next six months, according to a newly released report by the state's comptroller.
The city's restaurant industry has been operating under severe restrictions for months and were allowed to resume indoor dining just this week at a maximum capacity of 25%.
"The industry is challenging under the best of circumstances, and many eateries operate on tight margins," said Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. "Now they face an unprecedented upheaval that may cause many establishments to close forever."
His audit estimates that a third to half of restaurants may shut down permanently, which could eliminate as many as 150,000 jobs.
Last year, the industry accounted for $27 billion in taxable sales and 317,800 jobs. In August 2020, 174,000 people were employed in the city's bars and restaurants, up from 91,000 in April.
The industry stands to suffer further harm as temperatures dip, making outdoor dining less appealing.
Shu Chowdhury, a restaurant industry expert, told the New York Post that 25% indoor capacity "is not sustainable for the business to operate profitably."
"Public safety is and should remain a priority, but in the near future restaurants must be able to reopen at a minimum of 50% with extended hours in order to move towards safe and profitable operations," Chowdhury said.