The first diners have started paying $50 for a coronavirus test before their meal in a unique scheme introduced by one New York restaurant.
As New Yorkers face three-hour waits for covid tests ahead of Thanksgiving, City Winery in the Meatpacking District has started requiring people to get a test before they can take their table.
It is understood that the venue will be the first in the nation to create a ‘100% COVID-tested space’.
Michael Dorf, City Winery Founder and CEO, said: ‘There are some people challenging the legitimacy of what we are doing, questioning the type of testing we are doing and frustrated that we are forcing a $50 charge before you come in.
‘Lets be clear we are doing this for two days a week to pilot the concept. We are only doing this as a bridge to the time when the vaccine is in enough peoples arms and we can have indoor dining again safely.
‘We didn’t see any alternative if we were going to survive the next four, five months in a cold New York season where people are reluctant to be eating outside anymore.’
A medical professional administers a COVID-19 test to enter City Winery on Tuesday
Patrons of the restaurant, City Winery, get a covid test to enter. City Winery will be the first restaurant in the nation to create a ‘100% COVID-tested space’
Patrons wear protective masks during the coronavirus pandemic while waiting to get a COVID-19 test to enter City Winery
A woman takes a COVID-19 test to enter City Winery on Tuesday in New York City
Patrons wear protective masks during the coronavirus pandemic while waiting to get a COVID-19 test to enter the venue
Patrons dine at City Winery after taking the mandatory Covid-19 test. The pilot testing program launched on Tuesday in what may be a first for the metropolis
City Winery is using antigen tests with BD Veritor analyzers, which are thought to provide 99% accurate results for a negative test and 90% for a positive test.
The services are provided by biomedical company Accurex. Accurex’s Antibody Rapid Test is a ‘one-step test’ for Covid-19 and can yield results within 15 minutes.
Accurex’s CEO Dr. David Reese said in a statement: ‘We are thrilled to arrange state-of-the-art science to support the restaurant industry and the innovative process being pioneered at City Winery.’
The cost of the test is $50 per person and prepayment via Resy is required in order to make a reservation.
Diners were pictured wearing protective face coverings as they queued to get a test before receiving a swab from a medical professional last night.
Would-be diners will be given a wellness check then a nasal swab by a health professional upon arrival at the door and can have a drink while they wait the 10 to 15 minutes for results.
If the test comes back negative, they will be admitted into the restaurant where standard mask wearing and social distancing rules will still apply.
Positive test results will be sent to a lab to be verified and the patron will be turned away.
The restaurant and live music venue will continue to provide outdoor dining options in areas like the one pictured above
Founder and CEO Michael Dorf said the tests are necessary to get customers indoors and tide the business over until spring. Pictured: Dorf hosting a show at the venue in July 2019
It is hoped the test will help persuade diners that it’s safe to sit indoors at the weather gets colder and outdoor dining is a less popular option. Pictured: One of the bars at City Winery
The new measures will only be in place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the rest of the week the venue is open test-free and outdoor seating is also available.
The full $50 fee guests are required to pay for the tests goes directly to the testing company, City Winery’s press release stated.
Locals were left unimpressed with the mandatory $50 charge to be able to dine at the venue.
One person wrote on Twitter: ‘No thanks City Winery, not even I am that desperate for indoor music. $50 rapid COVID tests at the door with a glass of wine while you wait for your test results.’
‘I don’t know anything about city winery, but $50 to eat there before you’ve even eaten there? No,’ another said.
One person commented on the expense: ‘They’re going to be empty two nights a week. Eating out is already expensive.
‘Adding $50 per head, & requiring a negative result to get in, places a gigantic premium on the meal. If one person in the party tests positive, you just spent $50 per person for nothing.’
Others pointed out that while queues were mounting to get public coronavirus testing in the city, they could instead get tested quicker at the restaurant. ‘Found a loophope,’ one Twitter user said.
People wait to get COVID-19 tests at a Citi MD center on 23 Street, Manhattan, New York. People have pointed out that while queues were mounting to get public coronavirus testing in the city, they could instead get tested quicker at the restaurant
‘City winery is giving rapid tests today and tomorrow with a $50/person fee. Beats the s*** out of waiting outside of cityMD for four hours.’
City Winery already conducts temperature checks, santizes tables and chairs between each party and offers contactless dining.
The pilot scheme comes as New York recorded 5,282 new cases on Wednesday, brining the city’s total to 579,000.
Three more deaths were recorded in the city where 24,149 people have been killed by the virus.