The curfew for New York state restaurants and bars will be extended until midnight beginning next week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. The move, which extends the current 11 p.m. curfew for food businesses by one hour, goes into effect Monday, April 19.
It’s a minor win for restaurant and bar owners who have been calling on elected officials to lift the state’s pandemic curfew for months and seen only incremental change. “It’s great news,” says one south Brooklyn bar owner, who requested anonymity in order to speak freely. “No curfew would obviously be better, but we do have to watch out for ‘Cinderella Covid’ which only comes out at midnight.”
Cuomo previously extended the curfew for New York food businesses from 10 to 11 p.m. in February, citing a decline in the COVID-19 positivity rate and hospitalizations at that time. The latest extension comes less than two weeks after New York lifted its pandemic curfew for gyms and movie theaters, but left restrictions in place for restaurants and bars.
Mayor Bill de Blasio supported the decision to keep the curfew on food businesses at the time, as did city health commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi. “I think it is fair to say that there are a variety of situations in which people are not as conscientious and when it gets later in the day, and [people] are more tired — and certainly if they have had a drink — there’s different realities,” de Blasio said in a press conference on April 5.
#BREAKING: Effective Monday, April 19, the curfew currently in place for bars & restaurants will be moving from 11pm to midnight.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 14, 2021
The curfew for catered events will move from midnight to 1am.
The response from restaurateurs to the ongoing curfew has been more mixed, with some owners saying lifting the curfew could be more beneficial than the state raising indoor capacity limits. Industry trade groups and local politicians, meanwhile, have been speaking out against the curfew for months, calling it an unfair, “arbitrary” restriction that hampers their ability to bring in revenue due to earlier order cutoff times.
The curfew extension is a step in the right direction, says Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, but there are still other regulations that restaurateurs and bar owners would like to see removed. “The extra hour is good news for restaurants, bars and customers, but we need to also lift the rule that prohibits customers from being seated to eat at a bar in NYC, and revisit removing the requirement that a ‘food item’ be served with a drink,” Rigie says.
Owners would also like to see public transit schedules revised in light of the curfew extension. “The first thing that came to mind when I heard the news is how are my people gonna get home without 24-hour subway service coming back?” the south Brooklyn bar owner says. “I hope [Cuomo is] thinking about bringing that back ASAP.”
In nearby New Jersey, food businesses have been operating past 10 p.m. since February, when Gov. Phil Murphy lifted the state’s pandemic curfew indefinitely. Connecticut rolled back some of its pandemic restrictions in March but kept its 11 p.m. curfew in place for restaurants and bars.
As of April 12, the COVID-19 test positivity rate on a seven-day average in NYC was 5.3 percent, according to city data, tracking just above officials’ safety threshold of 5 percent. More than 7.8 million New Yorkers — nearly 40 percent of the state population — have received at least one dose of the vaccine at the time of publication, according to state data.
Additional reporting by Erika Adams