What You Get for Your Mandatory $50 Admission Fee at This NYC Restaurant

Image: City WInery

OK, maybe I’m quibbling over semantics. I call it “admission fee” because you can’t get in without paying it. City Winery, the restaurant and performance space at Hudson River Park, would probably call it a “precautionary measure” against COVID-19. Either way it’s a mandatory $50 for a nasal swab, which all customers must take prior to entry.

According to the restaurant’s website, the pilot Covid-19 testing program will go into effect Tuesday Nov. 24 and remain in force for the remainder of 2020:

Upon arrival, guests will participate in our mandatory wellness check, then receive a shallow nasal swab by a certified practitioner, a glass of City Winery Bubbles, and be asked to wait the 10-15 minutes for their results outside of City Winery. If the rapid result is negative, the guest will be welcome to enter, with their mask in place, and practice all proper socially distanced protocols.

Spending 10 to 15 minutes outside the winery, which is situated on a pier that extends out into the river, ought to be great fun during the winter months, when the wind blows in off the water.

I can understand a mandatory test but why one that costs $50? The house assures you that 100% of the fee (which must be paid in advance via Resy) goes to the testing facility, but so what? Also, why is the test administered only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays? Is the restaurant closed the other nights or do they just stop caring on those nights?

I don’t mean to sound harsh. I know that the city’s restaurants are going through utter hell right now. I also appreciate any restaurant going the extra mile to keep its staff and customers safe. But a $50-a-head fee for a COVID test strikes me as a bridge too far.