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New York City thinks up to half of restaurants will close permanently [pdf] (ny.us)
83 points by bookofjoe 18 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 136 comments

I have to have a counterpoint:

One of my favorite coffee places in Manhattan closed this summer. I was bummed. Their lease was up for renewal, and it didn't make sense for the owner to renew it as all of the office worker traffic was gone.

Two months later, there is a new coffee place at that spot. The guys (different owners) just got a great deal on the lease for the first two years, and they will just need to make employee expenses. One of the baristas, was actually the same barista from the previous coffee place.

so, many places will close, and new restaurants will eventually open, hopefully with better/cheaper leases, which in Manhattan is a major expense, and kinda crazy compared to other cities.

I think a lot of the businesses that depended on office workers are going to close. While the ones that are in more residential areas, with available outdoor seating, will fare a bit better.

Why didn't the landlord offer this "2 years no rent" deal to the existing "favorite coffee places"?

I'm not sure replacing established successful businesses with new ones is a fair trade...

I have no clue why not, but a similiar thing has happened in the rental market. Lots of landlords keeping the rates of apt. the same, and forcing people to move out.

Then, they find out they can't rent at those prices, they still are hesitant to drop prices and just offer 3-4 months of 'free rent' instead.

Many, eventually do capitulate, but this seems to take months or even more (for some, their building contracts have to reset, as there are REITs involved, etc).

It is some kind of human psychology at play. This is similar on how so many tech companies refuse to give meaningful raises, and have employees leave. the replacement is always more costly.

> Then, they find out they can't rent at those prices, they still are hesitant to drop prices and just offer 3-4 months of 'free rent' instead.

This one is easy to explain. Commercial real estate (which includes apartment buildings with 5+ units) is valued strictly by the amount of income it can produce, i.e. what the monthly rents are. If you drop the rent from X to 0.67X, you've basically cut your property value by 1/3. If you give a rebate of 4 months free rent, the effect on the property value is basically 0.

This also inflates “market rate” and justifies higher prices for rent as well as government subsidized housing (which is just reduced rent because part of the rent is paid for from the market rate). By paying for “free months” themselves the rent prices never go down in the area and the market never corrects itself, leaving prices to either stay the same or rise always.

I don’t know about the dynamics in NYC but in SF a lot of landlords can afford to keep commercial spaces vacant, and apartments emptied out. The opportunity cost in not leasing out can be made up for by holding out for tenants that will overpay on the commercial side, and rent control makes renting apartments out for too low a price unappealing on the residential side.

Kill both Prop 13 (entirely, not just sections of it) and rent control and you might see some normalcy return to the California property and rental market.

It's not just prop13 and it's not just in California. The Federal reserve has been buying mortgage backed securities to keep the market from correcting (similar to ~2008.) Because of this you can finance the construction and sale of small amounts of luxery space without having to worry nearly as much about being able to rent it for a profit.

Essentially we have insane inflation but it's been carefully architected to only really affect real estate.

Yep. At least in Europe it's standard for many or even most restaurants to go bankrupt every couple of years to get rid of debt, and start again in the same pace soon after.

The fact that half the restaurants are closing doesn't mean there isn't demand for those restaurants and employees after the pandemic.

> The guys (different owners) just got a great deal on the lease for the first two years, and they will just need to make employee expenses.

its a TRAP, He most likely signed usual 10 year $20-40K/m for a 2000ft hole in the wall with foot traffic NY lease. Super enticing amount of free months is there to lure you in. The trap is he probably personally guaranteed (house mortgage?) the lease, not the restaurant business running the place.


It is generally bad for societal trust when those who have invested in the system are suddenly uprooted and have their investments destroyed. It is more likely that the next potential cafe owners are thinking, “Why risk opening a cafe if it might be irrationally shut down?”

you were not in NYC in march, were you? Lots of people just refused to go to work, or do outside things when the death toll started climbing in Italy, to the point it was all over the news.

Everyone knew it was a matter of time when it would hit NYC, and when it did, we were blind as there was no testing available to people unless you ended up in the ICU.

My soccer team just forfeited their mach, as team members did not feel safe to play while the virus was spreading. This was way before the lockdown in early march,

I stoped going to the gym too. People just didn't feel safe, and even if things were open, people would just not go out.

Almost, all places were at about 30% capacity. In the long run, they'd still have failed. People just wont/don't like to go out or travel.

You can still go in places like Albania, or Turkey, or Greece, who managed the virus/had low levels of it, yet their tourism is not doing well at all as many folks don't like risking it.

That was six months ago. As far as I’m concerned, the leadership in NYC has been completely ineffective and incompetent. The rest of the world is basically moving past the virus, while New York is considering even more restrictions.


> Huh? [...] What Europe are you talking about? [...] you sound like a Trump troll.

Please don't break the site guidelines like this. We need the oldest users of HN to represent the spirit of the site, not toxify it.


> I hate to say it, but you sound like a Trump troll.

This sort of comment doesn’t belong here.

The point is that Europe has mostly been normal for months now. NYC hasn’t.

Dutch person here. We are absolutely not back to normal. In fact many countries including mine are going back to more restrictions because we let them too loose.

This data from Yelp is pretty stunning:

"The restaurant industry continues to be among the most impacted with an increasing number of closures – totalling 32,109 closures as of August 31, with 19,590 of these business closures indicated to be permanent (61%)."


I think people's memories are a bit short regarding just how dire things were in NYC back in April. I think things are a bit more complicated than just blaming the governor for shutting down restaurants.

Every resident in or around New York heard ambulances 24/7. Everyone knew someone that got very sick (not that anyone could even prove that they had it since testing was extremely scarce). The virus was still very new and there were legitimate reasons to suspect the death rate was much higher than it thankfully ended being. I even remember hearing rumors from friends, family, and coworkers that the feds were going to enforce a "wuhan-style" quarantine in NYC. In terms of general fright, it reminded me a lot of 9/11.

It would've been political malfeasance for the mayor/governor to do nothing in these circumstances. In terms of infections, the city recovered relatively quickly and most of the lockdown was lifted by Summer (indoor dining obviously being one of the holdouts here that hurt restaurants a lot)

I think the worst "medium-term" effects are the loss of tourists and office workers. There's very few legal restrictions on offices reopening at this point, but very few have actually come back. The triple of lockdowns, vanishing tourists, and vanishing office workers is just too much for small businesses.

> There's very few legal restrictions on offices reopening at this point, but very few have actually come back. The triple of lockdowns, vanishing tourists, and vanishing office workers is just too much for small businesses.

I think this is key. For people trying to blame the governor of New York, just look across the political spectrum to Texas. I am not a fan of Greg Abbott in any sense, but I will give credit where credit is due, and I think his Covid policies have been very reasonable and based in science and data. And even with those looser restrictions, restaurants in major Texas cities have still been hit incredibly hard. Downtown Austin is still pretty ghost-town like, and all the businesses that cater to those downtown office workers and tourists have been devastated despite there being relatively few official restrictions left on offices.

People are protecting themselves. Most are avoiding restaurants, bars, and gyms completely. It doesn't matter that they're open.

Trump has the right idea, that people need to be made less afraid of the virus. But his execution is backwards, people aren't idiots.

The priority should have been relaxing laws to allow existing businesses to do delivery. Allowing stores to sell goods outdoors in the parking lot. Getting a couple good masks to every citizen, even though it meant reusing them. Actually useful things, instead of telling everyone not to worry about it.

Indeed. Half of all COVID deaths in the US by early May were in the Boston-DC metropolis. The per capita death rate for NYC, even after almost no COVID deaths over the last two months, is still 1 in 570, 4x the national rate of 1 in 2300 (along with NJ; CT, RI, MA and LA round out the list of <1 in 1000).

Also NYC hit a hospitalization rate of 1 in 700 at the peak. Legitimate forecasts had hospitalization rates potentially blowing out available capacity. The worst State hospitalization rate now is 1 in 4600, 6x better.

On the other hand, consider the threshold for “just a bad flu” to be twice the per capita death rate from the 17-18 flu season (CDC upper estimate of 1 in 5000, so 1 in 2500). Then half of the US states are still in the “just a bad flu” or better six months on. And even that skewing to the old. Nine states haven’t reached the 1 in 5000 level of the 17-18 flu after 6 months. So, for a lot of the US, their experience was, and continues to be, different than the East Coast and certain key cities like Detroit and St Louis. My numbers say 30% of the US population is in this category.

> The per capita death rate for NYC, even after almost no COVID deaths over the last two months, is still 1 in 570, 4x the national rate of 1 in 2300

That's the per capita death rate for New York state.

The proportion of people who died in NYC with a positive COVID test or with cause of death listed as COVID is more like 1 in 255.

The state of the US economy, and society, is so incredibly frightening to me because we seem to no longer have a collective, shared experience and goals.

On one hand, people like me in the tech industry are doing fine, or better than fine. My job is secure and my skills are in high demand. On the other hand, I have friends who are highly skilled artists (musicians and dancers) who are going through the worst depression in a lifetime. Many trained intensively since early childhood, managed to succeed in a career where very few make it, but now are considering leaving that career, because they need to eat. It's beyond heartbreaking, and because of our general isolation right now I don't see us doing much (us as both a society and through government) to support these people right now. Yes, things will eventually improve, but in the meantime we are going to lose a generation of talent.

> The state of the US economy, and society, is so incredibly frightening to me because we seem to no longer have a collective, shared experience and goals.

When has this ever been true?

Exactly. I don't think US as a melting pot has ever had a shared experience. That hasn't slowed the economic growth.

And yet when I suggest that we re-open spaces for the young and healthy, and let the old and infirm decide to quarantine for themselves, I'm called inhumane and callous. The elite of this country have decided this is the sacrifice we will make - sorry for your friends, hopefully they get jobs in a warehouse or manage to get on the government dole.

I don't necessarily disagree with the premise that isolation (and support for those in that isolation) should be directed at those at greater risk, especially when Covid has such a divergent risk profile based on age and other factors.

That said, my (relatively young) friends are classically trained musicians and ballet dancers. They are still screwed if their audience, which skews older, can't attend. This dynamic exists in lots of places, e.g. keeping kids home from school is extremely detrimental to their development, but what do you do for elderly teachers and professors?

I still say, let everyone make the decision for themselves. Many old people (the majority) that get COVID don't die, but recover. They can attend performances.

I don't see why we need to destroy everyone's lives for a minority of high risk people. Let everyone make their own decisions rather than use the iron fist of government to decide for us.

It's not only high risk people who get the disease, or even only high risk people who die. And, those same "young and healthy" people you're wanting to let loose still suffer serious aftereffects. You're trivializing it by saying "only old people die," not the least because it's it's not true.

Further, those young people who don't die still take the disease back out into public with them, spreading it elsewhere. This is why simply saying "let people who think they are invulnerable do whatever" doesn't work, because even if they are in fact unkillable their actions can still result in the deaths of others.

Disagree - the statistics say the vast majority of those who get COVID when they are young recover. This is why outbreaks at colleges get a lot of attention for the cases, but no follow up because no one dies. You look at the oddball death and panic over it. But this is not the norm!

Binary live-vs.-die statistics aren't the full story. This illness is known to cause lingering side effects (lungs and heart) that in particular would affect those in physically demanding careers -- e.g. musicians and dancers as was mentioned by OP.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects.... https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2020/08/08/athletes-co...

What is the incidence rate and magnitude of COVID effects in young people? One should naturally expect such a follow up question when quantifying death and risk in public policy.

Can you quantify how much damage the virus will do to young people, including the incidence rate of serious side effects in young people?

> I still say, let everyone make the decision for themselves. Many old people (the majority) that get COVID don't die, but recover. They can attend performances.

While we're at it, let's do the same with drunk driving. After all, most intoxicated drivers don't actually get into accidents and many drive large safe cars that protect them well. Why shouldn't they get to decide their own risk preference for themselves? /s

Because your beliefs directly challenge those who believe everyone must wear a mask, and everyone be locked down. No one can stand to be challenged anymore, and they react very negatively.

The disease also kills young people and can do significant damage even if you don't die from it.

How many young people have died so far in the US?

The lockdowns are also disproportionately affecting smaller businesses. McDonalds can afford to be closed, while the local diner can’t. Expect MegaCorp to grab even more market share.

Quite. Even extremely moderate measures like commercial lease subsidies for small businesses could have helped enormously, but governments at all levels just don't seem to particularly care.

There were a thousand possible ways to navigate this crisis well - Germany's wage-subsidizing Kurzarbeit system has frequently been cited. But all of them require some measure of political will and imagination, and that seems utterly lacking in America. I can't think of a single city or state which has even really tried to do more than the bare minimum.

The “local diners” in the USA have been sourcing all their food from Sysco for years if not decades now. Sure, not being part of a franchise gives an aura of being independent, but even smaller eateries in the USA are still pretty much corporate.

It’s an expression. Every independently-owned restaurant in America doesn’t get its food from Sysco.

Could you imagine a world where the trillion dollars corporate bailout went to those small restaurantes and others small businesses instead? Or maybe where businesses booming -thanks to the quarantine- such as Amazon where forced to pay taxes instead of using legal loopholes to avoid paying any? Maybe both changes at the same time? Oh but that sounds too much like socialism and we can't have that devil around do we?

It's a good time as any to remember this website where each pixel represents $1000 so you can get a good grip about how money is being hoarded by the ultra-rich: https://mkorostoff.github.io/1-pixel-wealth/

I am hoping that the ones that remain can charge a sustainable price for their product when dinging out becomes a thing again. Restaurants are notoriously bad for working conditions and wages. May be they can charge enough to pay their workers better.

Restaurants have notoriously thin margins. I don't see why that should change in the future. Paying their workers better won't happen unless there's a specific reason for it.

This is incredibly sad. My favorite restaurant in the world closed in San Francisco - its such a tough time for that industry.

Which one? But yeah I don't think we are going to fair any better.

Walzwerk SF :(

why does it matter, it's closed

Which one though :)

Mine as well in Toronto.

Seattle checking in.


This is really a sad news. If you happen to visit Australia, come and visit The Clayton Hotel (theclaytonhotel.com.au). The Clayton Hotel comes with a rich history, we are extremely proud of what we have become today. Many people from neighboring cities of Clayton, Victoria, Melbourne, Australia loves visiting us.

blimey that's some niche spam!

I think you meant to write crikey

The long term trend of restaurants being closed in favor of ghost kitchens has just been accelerated due to COVID. It's just not sustainable to keep paying for brick and mortar when everything's moving online and to on-demand delivery. Retail is next.

I strongly disagree on the premise that the food itself is not what drives people to go out to eat. It's the experience, the setting, the service, ordering a drink, getting out of the house, and the welcome distraction that drive people to restaurants.

Restaurants that make their money from people looking for a fine-dining experience are a minority of NYC restaurants, especially in Manhattan. Most eateries are serving workers.

I don’t know. I haven’t had a single good take out or delivery meal, beyond food types that were generally deliverable pre-COVID. Delivered sushi? It’s rubber. A crisp pan seared chicken breast? Also rubber. Don’t even waste your time with a steak. Once we get through this pandemic the restaurant industry will sky rocket.

The quality of delivered food is usually pretty underwhelming for me.

I mean, why don't we all just live in our bedrooms forever? We can order everything we need from Amazon, order our groceries and meals online, and zoom with our coworkers. Who needs physical human contact?


A restaurant in say New York has to be packed to be profitable. you really have no time for any additional protection measures either.

that mean it has nothing to do with a lock-down at this point - even if everything were to open up you have to convince people to go and get infected at the restaurants.

If even half of the customers take the virus situation serious then they will stay away - and guess what half the restaurants will close.

No one should realize that because lockdowns are to contain and minimize impacts of the virus and the evidence overwhelmingly suggests no matter what the economy gets impacted, this is the way to reduce harm to economic activity the best. Without restricting high spread activities the economy suffers even more as everyone gets sick and hospitals get overwhelmed.

What you’re saying is just like saying evacuation orders for a hurricane cause businesses to lose customers before and after the hurricane so never evacuate.

We are locking down far in excess of simply not overwhelming our hospitals.

You're right. I've felt a little bitter about the messaging ever since March.

From the get-go, there were articles pointing out the numerical reality that it would take 10 years to reach herd immunity with a curve flattened to match ICU capacity. Those calculations were slightly too pessimistic due to a myopic focus on ventilators, and the therapeutics have evolved since then.

So we were flattening the curve to delay a mass spread until a vaccine? Doesn't add up. Masks are as effective as the candidate vaccines will be at 100% use. Not everyone will get vaccinated. Maybe we delay until masks+vaccine push R0<1. Also doesn't add up. The new infection numbers are steady NOW, R0 has averaged around unity for months.

Look, it's hard to summarize a strategy when there is no strategy. There's just been reaction.

Based on what?


>It has the ability to rapidly overwhelm areas very quickly. What I’m saying is completely factual and in line with epidemiologists and expert medical body assessments of the disease, of which you are likely not one of and are certainly not in line with.

The data is not on your side: statistically lockdowns have little effect on reducing covid deaths (https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/social-distancing-more-imp...). If there was a significant risk that it would "overwhelm areas very quickly" without lockdowns, we'd have seen this in places like Sweden, South Dakota and Japan which didn't have lockdowns, but we didn't.

Yes, but the point is to not have people get sick and die. Many people die even if they go to the hospital and there's plenty of respirator capacity - respirators are a last-ditch effort for someone who's hardest hit by the disease. This isn't an RPG with inns that always work and take you back to 100% health no matter what.

If we want to say the lockdowns have been worse, let's start by answering:

1. What is the value of a human life, in dollars?

2. What is the cost of a preventable long-term injury? (In terms of diminished inherent value of life, diminished economic impact, whatever.)

3. What is the cost of a life spent without indoor restaurants for months to years?

Take 1 and 2, and weigh them against 3 + the economic losses due to lockdown.

10,000 children per month are starving to death due to second and third order effects of the lockdowns.


The median life-span of an American is 78. The median age of death from Covid is 82. The more rational statistic is life-years lost than # of deaths. If a toddler dies, they have lost 70+ years of life. If an 80 year old dies, they might have lost just a couple years of life. Economic hardships for young adults will reduce their lifespans by several years, not counting drug and alcohol addiction, suicide, etc.

If I could trade a few of my years at 80+ to ensure a better quality of life for my child I would take that in a second. Practically every parent would.

The right path forward is to take appropriate precautions to protect the vulnerable while everyone else goes back to work. We may still have a lot to learn, but we know so much more about this disease than we did when we took "14 days to slow the spread." It's time to open up.

The actual study seems to claim that lack of school lunches is what's responsible for those 10,000 deaths per month. I agree that this is a problem worth solving. NYC did specifically solve that problem early because people realized it would be a problem, and school lunches (and summer meals) have been available for pickup without actually going to school. Also, no part of solving this problem requires reopening restaurants.

I'm glad you're willing to nobly sacrifice your life, but what if we could save those 10,000 kids per month without opening back up? What if we could save more lives by keeping essential services operational and non-essential businesses closed with targeted government interventions to keep people fed and housed? Would you be willing to do that?

I understand economics well enough to understand you basically asked me if I would accept Santa is real.

For federal regulatory purposes the value of a human life is about $10M.


That's the value of an average life. For public health issues, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-adjusted_life_year is often used instead (e.g. by the NHS).

We may have to aim for virus extinction. Simply flattening the curve means we are aiming for herd immunity, but there are worrying signs that immunity may only last a few months, making it possible to recirculate. The science isn't settled, but I think until we know more we should be more conservative.


This virus cannot be eradicated. You'd have to force everyone on the planet to isolate for 2 weeks. Simply impossible.

Not sure two weeks really work anyway. In a large household with lots of space and people living different lifestyles, if someone was infected at the start of the lockdown, not everyone is guaranteed to get infected at the same time. We could end up with someone being infected near the end of the lockdown and they then go out into public and spread it around while thinking everything is safe because of the lockdown. My brother's mother-in-law lives in a basement suite in his house. She has her own small kitchen, bathroom, and external door. She's the type who could end up getting infected and be contagious at the end of the lockdown. Then one trip to the grocery store and now the town has a cluster of infections despite the lockdown.

And there are animal reservoirs. Even if we temporarily eradicated the virus from all humans we would just catch it from animals again and the pandemic would start all over.

No expert I'm familiar with believes that it's possible to drive the virus extinct, at least not without decades of work.

Well, give me another strategy in the case that re-circulation is possible. We can wait for a vaccine, which sometimes (highly variable!) is better than getting the bug itself, but that's all I can think of.

I'm not sure what you mean. There's no perfect strategy, only tradeoffs - how much are we willing to spend and how much are we willing to sacrifice for what degree of suppression? The ideal scenario is for Covid-19 to end up something like tuberculosis or HIV, a serious public health issue but not one that the average person necessarily needs to think about day to day.

If someone tells you that they have a plan to stop the coronavirus from being a public health issue at all, they're misinformed or untruthful.

Virus eradication is flatly impossible. That will never happen in our lifetimes, even with an effective vaccine.

The best evidence we have indicates that recovered patients will retain a high level of immunity for at least several years.


Thanks for the link. I wasn't able to download the full article though (couldn't access sci hub either). :-/ The abstract of the article says they are merely making (informed) speculation though.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I thought it would be similar to a more deadly flu or something with long-lived immunity for a given strain once you got it. At this point, I am assuming less and less. We found it wasn't even a lung disease, but a disease of the angiotensin system. We assumed ventilators would help, but often they just mushed damaged lung tissue. There's been tons of snake-oil cures floating around too. People are starting to show evidence of long term damage. Let's measure things before we make irreversible decisions.

What evidence is that? Some other countries have not forced restaurants to close and yet have low current death rates.

It's economy also fell more than its neighbors https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-sweden-gdp-falls...

An interesting comparison is Melbourne vs the rest of Australia. Most of the country only shut down down briefly and then reopened, but Melbourne shut down for months and has still not reopened. Melbourne (and its state, Victoria) is doing way worse than the other states economically: https://www.forbesadvocate.com.au/story/6902039/victoria-dra....

That's a non sequitur. This discussion is about restaurants, not GDP. And I'm not sure why you're bringing up Sweden? There are other examples of countries with low death rates despite imposing minimal pandemic control measures.


I think we're pretty far into the sunk cost fallacy on this one.

The fact that we've spent the past six months like this makes it too hard for many to accept that it might not have been the right choice.

Not liking a situation doesn't automatically push it into the realm of a sunk cost fallacy.

The moment that it ceases to be a contentious political issue. When something is politicized, everyone inevitably lines up on one side, logic be damned.

Yeah, I don't think this has anything to do with a 'lockdown' but rather general desire not to get what appears to be a very bad flu. We don't have any 'lockdown' where I live, but there is a lot of news about cases rising and so people are wearing masks and curtailing gatherings.

The best thing for the economy would be a trusted vaccine and/or case counts going down.

> The best thing for the economy would be a trusted vaccine and/or case counts going down.

Disagree. I think the best thing would be better therapeutics. If you get rid of the death sentence (or make it extremely unlikely) that will be enough for people to resume almost all activities.

Does it?

I ask this as a New York resident: how many restaurants is one life worth? I was here back at the peak of the COVID outbreak when there were refrigerated trucks being loaded with bodies because the morgues had run out of space. It deeply, deeply sucks that a lot of restaurants are going to close. I hope that in time others will reopen in their place... it’s an underreported fact that a lot of restaurants close every year, I’ve had it happen to many favorites. New ones come.

To me personally, that loss is a price I’m willing to pay to stop the exponential increase of a pandemic. Maybe you’re right, though. Time will tell. Maybe the economic devastation will ruin NYC for years. Or maybe we’ll get the “v shaped recovery” we’ve been promised. Either way it’s too early to tell.

I'm also a New York resident, and my wife is a nurse practitioner who worked during COVID.

"how many restaurants is one life worth?"

It would take quite a few restaurants. However, you are ignoring the fact that letting all of the restaurants close will also kill people. I don't know how large this effect is, but we also don't know how many people will get COVID due to restaurants being open. It's complicated.

As a society we are okay with people driving cars, yet we know automobile accidents kill people.

I would ask you: How many car trips are worth one life?

Oh, I actually agree with you that it’s complicated and we don’t know if we’re making the right choice, that’s what I was trying to get at with “it’s too early to tell”. The reality is we won’t know what the right level is for a long time, if we ever do. My preference is to lean on the cautious side. My dispute with the OP was their blanket assertion.

(Also a New York resident, hi neighbors!) Yes, the problem we're facing is that the virus is going to be terrible for humanity and for the economy. There's no way around that. There are no good answers. No matter what we do, many people will die and many more will lose their livelihoods and their lives' work.

The question before us is to find the least bad answer - how do we save as many lives and livelihoods as possible? Of course every possible answer (including "do nothing and attempt to disclaim moral responsibility," which several governments seem to prefer) has a terrible cost. Some of those options are relatively less terrible.

(Personally, I think the city should lock down aggressively and also aggressively provide monetary relief to people negatively impacted, through taking on debt if needed, and figure it out later. If we don't survive this, the city loses its tax base anyway.)

its not the restaurant. its the people. its their jobs, their livelihoods that support their families. im not worried about economic devastation per se. im worried about the aftermath. The poverty that will break apart families and ruin kids lives forever. Come out to vegas and maybe your mind will change.

I don’t mean to sound like I don’t care about that. But it’s not a binary choice: if we had a government that actually cared then we could shut down while financially supporting those who lose their jobs. But we don’t, so we don’t.

It's incredibly generous of you to be willing to give up other people's livelihoods so easily, but isn't really worth much until you would do the same of your own.

Is it worse than letting them open and spread a deadly disease?

It's not particularly deadly to the vast majority of people.

My partner lost their job because of COVID. Please don’t make assumptions about people you don’t know.

Presumably only after the point when it becomes true, whenever that may be.

You can reopen a restaurant but can you reopen a human being?

It's really not that simple. The economy isn't a force of nature that will inevitably return - sometimes, a dead economy stays dead and a formerly rich region becomes poor.

This is somewhat true, but our labor force isn't going anywhere and can be reemployed. It's the capital that people worry about more, but we don't have to live by capital's whims if we choose not to.

With a bone saw, yes.

Time to get some Saudi investment into the NYC restaurant industry and kill two <s>journalists</s> birds with one stone!


You seem to be mixing up cause and effect. The reason COVID hasn't been so bad is because of all the special preventative measures. It's super contagious, still sends 10% of people to hospital, and is killing 1-2% of people. Sitting in the presence of strangers for hours in an enclosed space is a great way to transmit COVID, and this is why indoor dining must be closed.

>You seem to be mixing up cause and effect. The reason COVID hasn't been so bad is because of all the special preventative measures.

How does this square up with the fact that places without any lockdowns, like Sweden and South Dakota, still have fewer deaths per capita than places like New York, Peru, Belgium and Spain?

A recent study found no correlation between lockdowns and reduced fatality; social distancing is the thing that has an effect: https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/social-distancing-more-imp....

“We found that an early implementation of social distancing is the most significant factor, with a very high correlation to the mortality rate,” said the researchers. “Countries that responded quickly with social distancing measures – not necessarily with a tight lockdown – ultimately emerged from the first outbreak with better results. In contrast, no correlation was found between mortality data and the severity and/or length of the lockdown. Even in Sweden, a country that never imposed a lockdown, we can see that the early decrease in mobility, starting in March, was manifested in the mortality rate. Our study is based purely on observations and does not relate to the premises of any existing epidemiological model. We show that the spread of the pandemic can be prevented by quickly implementing basic measures of social distancing – without a rigorous lockdown.”

Sydney resident here, been eating out, indoors, since May. Our suppression strategy has been working; we don't adopt a "close at all costs" strategy.

For the uninformed, would you mind explaining your suppression strategy? Anything beyond the "shutdown early/shutdown hard" combined with universal testing and contact tracing?

The poster you are replying to is leaving out the major parts as to why Sydney's strategy is working.

Borders (local+international) were closed before there was a major influx of infected persons.

We've had hotel quarantine for ~all entries into the state.

The level of infections has been low enough that contact tracing was never overwhelmed.

The level of testing has generally been very high where outbreaks occurred.

The level of compliance with stay at home/limit travel has generally been pretty good.

And a a major factor is that we've been very lucky.

Still, there's been a lot of businesses severely impacted. Those that were already on the edge and either unable or unwilling to adapt, or were not able to make their new processes profitable have gone under.


Also, lets not forget that Victoria (Melbourne) had a broadly similar situation. They were unlucky in that their hotel quarantine process was poorly managed and there wasn't a strict adherance to quarantine protocols. This was a major trigger for their massive spike.

Anyone thinking this couldn't happen here in NSW (Sydney) is fooling themselves.

False. The infection fatality rate is under 1%. Please stop spreading alarmist misinformation.


Sweden’s approach seems to indicate the opposite.

Given how poorly Sweden has fared compared to its neighbors you really need to stop trying to use it as an example of good policy.

What neighbors? What data are you using? As far as I can tell, it is pretty much middle of the pack. Behind Italy, Spain, and the UK in Europe alone. Somewhere like Belgium is far far worse.

Not to mention the fact that Sweden specifically used this strategy in order to avoid government control over people, which as we have already seen, other countries are not doing. See: Australia. “Good policy” expands beyond a single metric.

It's neighbors would be the countries with which it shares a border: Norway, Finland and Denmark.

> The reason COVID hasn't been so bad is because of all the special preventative measures.

If that's the case, then why is Sweden's population-level mortality (578 per million) lower than the USA (642 per mission) or Spain (nearly 700), or several other lockdown states? Sweden didn't close restaurants or schools for a day.

Sweden's rate is also flat, while the USA and Spain are still increasing.

> sends 10% of people to hospital, and is killing 1-2% of people.

Can you provide a source for these strange figures? The last several dozen papers on serological prevalance have found the IFR to be nearly an order of magnitude lower than you're saying it is.

At least 10x as bad as the flu based on lethality or IFR. Far more contagious and it’s also most contagious when you have no symptoms. Flu season overwhelms hospitals sometimes by itself. Your numbers don’t add up.

10x still isn't that bad

do you smoke?

yeah sometimes


In the United States 50k people die from the flu per year. 400k people die from cigarettes per year. 70k die from diabetes per year. 40k die from car crashes per year (2M injuries)

> In the United States 50k people die from the flu per year. 400k people die from cigarettes per year. 70k die from diabetes per year. 40k die from car crashes per year (2M injuries)

right, so we shouldn't add to that and paralyze hospitals to not be able to deal with those 2 million injuries.

again, almost every country in the world understood this logic and did a similar or holistic solution. not doing it would not be a holistic solution for the United States

Think about it, instead of shutting down the world economy and ruining hundreds of millions (perhaps billions) of people's lives, they could have put stronger regulations on cigarettes/nicotine (or make it outright illegal)

And you don't have to repeat yourself


I believe you are conflating me with another user. I never said any of those things, all I said is 10x flu isn't that bad.

Name calling isn't gonna win you any friends and I'll leave it at that. Have a good night

I only replied to you, just checked, and didnt call you any names. This isnt going anywhere. Hope it is helpful for anyone reading this far down.

I mean you basically called me hyperbolic and goalpost shift-y

yeah if you actually believed banning cigarettes instead of shutting down the economy would have saved more lives instead of just saying that as an exaggerated literary device aka hyperbole then thats way worse

I was giving you the benefit of the doubt actually and it was the accurate word for it

I think shutting down the economy was a terrible decision that had little-to-no effect on the outcome of things so yeah I believe that. That being said, I think all drugs should be legal so I wouldn’t support banning nicotine even though it’d probably save a lot of lives

Also half of your comments got censored for some reason

This is terrible for sure, but it's worth remembering that 60% of all restaurants close within their first year of operation and 80% within 5 years. The restaurant industry in a city like New York is incredibly cut-throat.

There is a subtle (perhaps unintentional) sleight of hand here.

60% of all new restaurants close on the first year. That is very different than half of *all restaurants, even those that have been open for decades, closing in a single year.

Sure, but the same distinction is missing from the city's report. Which half of the city's restaurants are going to close permanently because of covid? Likely those that were on the edge of failure rather than well-established ones.

So McDonalds, Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts, Joe's Pizza, and 711 get to stay open yay

It's not about asking "which half". It's that the numbers cannot be compared. If 90% percent of restaurants stay open forever, 60% of new restaurants could close in their 1st year but only 6% of existing restaurants would close. If we say 50% of existing restaurants will close due to covid, comparing that to 60% makes no sense, it needs to be compared to 6%.

You are right that the 60% of restaurants that will fail are likely the ones that were on the edge anyway, however, this is a different distinction.

I think the more important distinction is that this is 60% of ALL restaurants, not 60% of the 10% of new restaurants (or 6% of restaurants).

(I made up the 10%, but I'm sure it is small.)

observationally, this doesn't seem to be the case. In NYC, the way it looks is that restaurants that were doing a brisk delivery business before the pandemic are still with us and a lot of great restaurants that were packed with in-person diners are gone. There are tons of exceptions. Source: Brooklyn.

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