June 3, 2020 / 4:17 PM / a month ago

NY governor allows outdoor dining in phase two, jabs at Trump Bible photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York will allow outdoor dining during phase two of reopening, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday, with restaurants in seven of 10 regions given the green light beginning on Thursday.

Cuomo also criticized U.S. President Donald Trump for a staged photo holding a Bible in front of a church near the White House, a visit made possible after protesters were cleared with rubber bullets and tear gas.

Under the plan to restart economic activity shut during coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, restaurants and food services are not set to reopen fully until phase three. The hospitality industry and some lawmakers have been pushing to allow outdoor dining to help struggling businesses.

New York City, which is set to enter phase one of reopening on Monday, and is not among the regions where outdoor dining can resume this week.

At a press conference earlier in the day, Cuomo criticized Trump’s response to the unrest rocking the United States after an African-American man in Minneapolis was killed while in police custody.

He noted that Trump did not read any passages from the Bible at his photo session at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

“The president held up the Bible the other day in Washington, D.C. Here in New York we actually read the Bible,” Cuomo told a briefing before reading some passages.

Cuomo, a Democrat who often trades barbs with the Republican president, said he opposed using U.S. military personnel to quell unrest, noting Trump’s defense secretary also opposed the idea.

Slideshow (4 Images)

“You can’t use the military as a political weapon,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said protesters in New York City were mainly peaceful on Tuesday and praised the police department’s handling of the events. A day earlier the governor had criticized the NYPD and the mayor.

“New York City last night was much better,” Cuomo told the briefing. “The protesters were mainly peaceful, the police officers had the resources and the capacity to do their job.”

reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Maria Caspani in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Richard Chang and David Gregorio

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