Due to rising COVID-19 cases across the country, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that State Liquor Authority-licensed restaurants and bars must set a 10 p.m. curfew.
Those food and drink establishments, along with gyms, have to remain closed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. daily. Restaurants may still offer off-premises after 10 p.m., but they won’t be allowed to sell alcohol. Previously, restaurants were required to close at midnight.
“In New York we follow the science,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We do it more rigorously I believe than any state in the nation and I believe we use more science than any state in the nation and that’s primarily the testing data. The reason we have been successful in reducing the spread in New York is we have been a step ahead of COVID. You know where it’s going. Stop it before it gets there.”
The new restrictions, which also limit private indoor and outdoor gatherings to 10 people, goes into effect Friday at 10 p.m.
New York’s positivity rate is 2.5 percent excluding micro-cluster zones and 2.9 with them. Inside the micro-cluster zones, the positivity rate is 4.9. On Wednesday, 1,628 were hospitalized—304 were in the ICU and 135 were intubated. Twenty-one passed away.
Cuomo described New York as a “ship on the COVID tide.” New Jersey’s infection rate is about 5 percent, Connecticut is around 7 percent and Pennsylvania is near 15 percent. He added that the areas in New York that are having the most issues are often close to neighboring states.
“You follow these number, you look at the line, you look at the trajectory, you know where it’s going, and it is going up and we have always been good at staying ahead of COVID and this is the calibration that we’ve talked about: increase economic activity, watch the positivity rate, positivity rate starts to go up, back off on the economic activity,” Cuomo said. “It was never a light switch. It was never binary, economic activity or public health. It was always both.”
The restrictions come at a difficult time for New York City restaurateurs, especially as winter approaches. Indoor dining didn’t return to New York City until the end of September. Currently, restaurants in the city are limited to 25 percent capacity. According to a survey of more than 400 operators conducted by the NYC Hospitality Alliance, 88 percent of respondents couldn’t pay full rent in October.
NYC Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Rigie said more transparency is required for restaurants. He said that at the time of the announcement, operators weren’t provided key details on the new limitations.
“They don’t know if the restrictions apply to indoor and outdoor dining, and if customers need to leave the restaurant by 10 p.m. or if they can finish their meals, which is creating more confusion, so we hope that information is released immediately,” Rigie said in a statement. “These new restrictions should be publicly justified with contact tracing data because they will make it even more difficult for these small businesses to survive. We demand that our elected leaders provide financial support to our city’s restaurants and bars before they permanently shutter and put tens of thousands of New Yorkers out of work.”