CHEMUNG COUNTY, N.Y. (WETM) – Local restaurant owners are defying the orange zone restrictions and are opening their restaurants for indoor dining this week.
Here is the list of restaurants opening for indoor dining and two that have already opened.
These restaurants have been in the orange zone in Chemung County for more than 11 weeks now, serving takeout orders during that time.
The Owner of Turtle Leaf Cafe, Adam Bunce, said most of the COVID-19 cases aren’t even coming from restaurants.
“We’re drawing the line,” said Bunce. “We were no longer going to be blamed responsible for the spread of COVID for the COVID numbers in this area.”
Jared Fish stepped into the ownership of Anne’s Pancakes in October right before the orange zone restrictions were put into place in November. He is also one of the restaurant owners opening for indoor dining this week.
“Anne’s pancakes is going to open up on Thursday, January 14th, despite the orange zone,” said Fish. We’re going to follow the yellow zone restrictions.”
Two restaurants have already been operating with indoor dining since last week. The Diner in Horseheads and BC’s Texas Hots owned by Michael Woodard.
“I can’t afford to do takeout only,” said Woodard. “Takeout does nothing for me. I need my dining room back, I need my customers to come in and enjoy sitting down having a meal.”
Areas are eligible to an orange zone if it has a 4% average positivity rate and the region has reached 85% hospital capacity, according to the Forward NY website.
On Sunday, Chemung County reported 26 new COVID-19 cases with a 6.10% 7-day rolling average of positive results.
The Forward NY website shows an unchanged report of 6.84% positivity rate last updated Nov. 6.
“The main reason that the cluster was originated in the beginning was to bring down the positivity rate,” said Bunce. “The numbers haven’t dropped in 11 weeks. It’s clear this experiment is not working. Meanwhile we have dozens of bars and restaurants in this cluster that are emptying out their savings accounts”
18 News was able to ask Governor Andrew Cuomo why Chemung County is still in the orange zone last Friday after five days of reaching out. However, he was unable to respond.
“Can you explain why Chemung County is in the orange zone?” asked 18 News reporter George Stockburger.
“I cannot off the top of my head but I can an answer after this call,” said Governor Cuomo.
18 News has not heard back yet.
Local business owners are fighting for a response and fighting to keep their doors open.