By Dylan Turkewitz
New York City, New York
New York is reopening. Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to end the curfew placed on restaurants and bars. The curfew was intended to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
On April 28, Governor Cuomo announced via Twitter that “beginning May 17, the 12am outdoor dining area curfew for bars & restaurants will be lifted.” He also announced that “the 12am indoor dining curfew is set to be lifted on May 31.” According to the New York Times, Governor Cuomo first ordered the curfew in November of 2020 because he believed that indoor dining was a leading cause of the spread of the virus. However, he was later criticized for his lack of evidence.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Governor Cuomo will also permit New Yorkers to sit at bars starting on May 3. Previously, they were restricted to the tables. He will also ease the restrictions of dancing at events such as weddings starting on May 3; although dancers will still be required to wear a mask and social distance from each other, they will be permitted to dance outside of a confined space.
Many restaurant owners and employees were delighted by the news but also believed it was long overdue. By limiting their hours of service, the curfew negatively impacted the hospitality industry. Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said that "New York City's restaurants and bars have been financially devastated by COVID-19 restrictions and it's great news that the state will finally undo the barstool ban and lift the arbitrary midnight curfew…these outdated policies made it too difficult for too many small business owners and workers to support themselves and their families, and were a grave inconvenience to customers," according to Spectrum News.
According to The Wall Street Journal, on April 26, Governor Cuomo expressed his hesitancy to implement this statewide change because people are still dying from COVID-19. However, two days later, he claimed that New York had progressed enough to warrant this change, mainly due to the effect of the vaccine: “To be clear: we will only be able to maintain this progress if everyone gets the Covid vaccine. It is the weapon that will win the war and we need everyone to take it, otherwise, we risk going backward,” he said.
The New York Times reported that in the age of COVID-19, New York City has been restricted more than any other region of New York. Yet, since the positive cases have recently dropped due to the vaccine, statewide legislators have begun to ease the policies. In March of 2020, Governor Cuomo increased the indoor dining capacity limit from 35 percent to 50 percent. In late April, he announced that the maximum capacity in offices in New York would be increased from 50 percent to 75 percent by May.
COVID-19 restrictions in New York continue to ease as progress is shown in curtailing the spread of the virus.