Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the end of the bar and restaurant curfew in New York. Starting next Monday, May 3, indoor diners will be able to open without time restrictions.
The capacity of these is still limited to 50% for the city and 75% for the rest of the state. “Lifting these restrictions for restaurants, bars and catering companies will allow these businesses that have been devastated by the pandemic to begin to recover as we return to a new normal in a post-pandemic world,” Cuomo said.
The governor also reported that beginning May 17, the curfew will be lifted for catered events where attendees have provided proof of immunization or a recent negative COVID-19 result.
The announcement comes a day after the Legislature reported that it would repeal the executive order stating that citizens who want to purchase alcoholic beverages must also purchase food.
The restaurant industry has lobbied for months to repeal the restrictions, arguing that they are arbitrary, having caused many New York businesses to go out of business.
New York restaurants hit hard
The official number of restaurants and bars that have closed in New York because of the severe restrictions is unknown. According to a survey by NYC Hospitality Alliance, 75% of food venues saw revenues drop by at least half in 2020 compared to 2019.
When asked if they would remain open without the need for financial support after the pandemic, only 15% said yes, and nearly half said no.
The state Department of Health had indicated that COVID-19 transmission in restaurants is 1.4 %, while 74 % of transmissions occur at private gatherings. Despite this, the governor’s office maintained the sweeping restrictions, which left dining establishment finances hanging in the balance.
An article by Brad Polumbo of FEE revealed that at least 4,500 New York City restaurants permanently closed their doors in the wake of the pandemic quarantines.
“The governor may have announced that his arbitrary curfew will be lifted in a few weeks, but our small businesses can’t afford to wait another day,” said state Senate Republican leader Rob Ortt.
The New York State Restaurant Association applauded the state Senate’s plan to repeal Cuomo’s measures, calling it “a small step toward recovery.”