The booming Omicron variant is becoming the Grinch who stole Christmas from Big Apple stores and restaurants that relied on the holiday season to help them bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over the weekend we didn’t have as many people as we usually do during the Christmas season,” a Saks Fifth Avenue employee said Wednesday.
“Our customers are buying omicron instead of buying a Dior bag.”
Over the course of the afternoon, around 40 people checked out the iconic Christmas-themed department store windows – while 25 others lined up across the street to get tested for the coronavirus.
Restaurant owners are particularly concerned that the rise in the number of new coronavirus cases – which reached a statewide record of 28,924 on Wednesday – could eventually shut down their operations.
“I have lost over 50 percent of my reservations. Maybe even more. The loss of income is therefore at least 50%, ”said Domenic Sacramone, owner of Sac’s Place in Astoria, Queens.
“It started to hit us last Thursday. Some are big reserves – groups of 11, groups of seven. ”
Sacramone said that “it’s like a three-tier situation.”
“First of all, people are scared and they cancel their reservations. Second, either people have been exposed or someone in their group has fallen ill, ”he said.
“The third reason is that people are traveling this Christmas and they don’t want to ruin their Christmas plans. So they don’t go out.
Data compiled by online reservation company OpenTable showed that the total number of people eating at the city’s restaurants that use its service fell nearly 60% on Monday and Tuesday, compared to the same days in 2019 before start of the pandemic.
The grim statistics came after two days of smaller declines – 32% on Saturday and 38% on Sunday – that followed Friday’s announcement that a record 21,027 New Yorkers had tested positive for COVID-19.
Andrew Rigie of the New York City Hospitality Alliance said he heard a restaurant owner say holiday revenue was down 60%.
“All types of restaurants have been impacted. Corporate parties were canceled, friends and family canceled their reservations and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time, ”he said.
Follow the latest news on the Omicron variant with live coverage from the New York Post
“Usually that’s a time when they make more money and pay off their debts. But all canceled reservations are just a punch – it makes it tough. “
A manager at the celebrity-beloved French restaurant Balthazar in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood said between 15 and 20 reservations were canceled “per day over the past week.”
At the Italian restaurant Carbone in Greenwich Village – where tables are so hard to find that New Yorker magazine recently ran a ‘how-to’ article – a waiter said: “People are canceling reservations made months ago. “
In addition to the numerous no-shows, many restaurants face staff shortages caused by workers who have declared themselves ill with the coronavirus – a problem that is only compounded by long waits for tests and results on some. Site (s.
“We’re understaffed – everyone gets COVID – so we can’t accommodate seats outside, only inside,” said an employee at the trendy Lure Fishbar in Soho.
And while some popular tourist attractions were still crowded, including Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center LEGO store, where shoppers lined up around the block, many visitors to the Big Apple said their trips were not going on. quite as expected.
Retired Dawn Nook from Gloucester, England, said she and her husband Paul Nook arrived on the Queen Mary 2 liner, which docked in Brooklyn on Monday for the first time in nearly two years.
Nook said they were “happy to wear the masks” after their last visit to the city 10 years ago – but disappointed to learn how COVID-19 was wreaking havoc on Yuletide’s cherished traditions.
“We had tickets for ‘The Nutcracker’ and it’s canceled. It’s such a shame, ”she said.
“I was looking forward to the ballet, what a downside.”
Jean Torres of North Carolina said he, his wife Ruth Torres and their 11-year-old son Jeanpaul had a similar experience.
“We wanted to get tickets to see Aladdin, and the show was canceled,” he said.
In addition to “Aladdin”, Pulitzer Prize-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “Hamilton” is closed until Christmas and Alanis Morrisette’s “Jagged Little Pill” closed Monday after “several” members of the cast and team have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Torres said he was concerned his family could catch COVID-19 during their Christmas getaway.
“We went to the Statue of Liberty yesterday and we were piled up like sardines,” he said.
“I am worried because in some places, like in the subway or Macy’s and the ice rink, there is no social distancing. When I saw everyone skating on the rink, we jumped.