As many as half of all New York City bars and restaurants could shutter permanently within the next six months due to the coronavirus, according to a stunning new audit released Thursday by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

RESTAURANT INDUSTRY LEADER: CORONAVIRUS AID URGENTLY NEEDED TO BATTLE ‘FIGHT OF OUR LIVES’

The report lays bare the extent of the pandemic’s fiscal impact on one of the city’s lifeblood industries, which only saw a return to indoor dining on Wednesday — at a meager 25 percent of normal seating capacity.

“The industry is challenging under the best of circumstances, and many eateries operate on tight margins,” said DiNapoli. “Now they face an unprecedented upheaval that may cause many establishments to close forever.”

In the next half-year, a third to half of all city bars and eateries could fall past the point of no return, potentially taking over 150,000 jobs with them, DiNapoli found.

DINING ‘BUBBLES’ ARE THE LATEST CORONAVIRUS-ERA RESTAURANT TREND

Nearly three-quarters of those employed in the city’s restaurant industry already found themselves jobless at the height of the pandemic, according to the report.

In 2019, the city’s restaurant industry accounted for 317,800 jobs, paid out $10.7 billion in wages and made more than $27 billion in taxable sales, the report said.

By April, as the coronavirus gripped the city and government mandates nixed indoor service, the industry’s employment tanked to 91,000 jobs, according to the audit.

A city initiative to expand and expedite applications for outdoor dining — recently approved as a permanent, year-round program — helped boost employment numbers to 174,000 by August, DiNapoli found.

NEW YORK CITY RESTAURANTS RESTART INDOOR DINING

Reuters
Reuters

NEW YORK/MILAN/HONG KONG/LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) – Corona Capital is a column updated throughout the day by Breakingviews columnists around the world with short, sharp pandemic-related insights.

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– NYC’s new cases

DON’T FORGET ABOUT IT. New York City’s positive Covid-19 test rate hit 3.25% on Tuesday, said Mayor Bill de Blasio, the highest since June. The Big Apple was an early hotspot, and its four largest counties have racked up over 223,000 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. But it had made a dramatic turnaround – with weeks of daily rates mostly between one and two percent. And limited indoor dining is just starting on Wednesday – giving the city’s economy a jolt it desperately needs.

The setback doesn’t have to be catastrophic. Around a quarter of new cases in the past two weeks are confined to only nine zip codes, which contain less than 8% of the city’s population, according to the New York Times. The main culprit seems to be populations violating mask rules, not reopening measures like outdoor dining. So the mayor doesn’t need to reverse course; he just needs to make sure New Yorkers cover up. (By Anna Szymanski)

BITE SIZE. The pandemic has thrown confectionary giant Ferrero a tasty treat. The maker of Nutella chocolate spread and Kinder eggs may swallow UK-based Fox’s Biscuits, says Sky News. Though the family owned Italian group won’t comment, a deal would fit its strategy of diversifying from chocolate confectionary into packaged sweets. Ferrero, which earned 11.4 billion euros in revenue last year, could easily afford the reported price tag of 250 million to 300 million pounds.

For Fox’s owner, a sale may also make sense. The maker of Crunch Creams and Viennese has done well while Britons snacked at home during lockdown. But it’s a