New York to lift curfew on bars, restaurants

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 11: People enjoy outdoor dining as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on August 11, 2020 in New York City. The fourth phase allows outdoor arts and entertainment, sporting events without fans and media production. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (WPIX) — A midnight curfew on bars and restaurants in New York will be lifted on a staggered schedule in May, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

The curfew on outdoor dining will end on May 17, but bars and restaurants will have to wait until May 31 to allow diners to stay indoors past midnight, according to the governor.

“Everything we’ve been doing is working – all the arrows are pointing in the right direction and now we’re able to increase economic activity even more. 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 Wednesday in a statement. “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.”

In another win for New York City bar owners, the state will end its ban on seating at bars on Monday. The move will bring the five boroughs in line with food service guidance in the rest of the state.

Additionally, the 1 a.m. curfew for catered events at venues where attendees have either provided proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test will lift on May 17. The curfew will be completely lifted for all catered events on May 31.

Also on Monday, catered events at individual residences will be allowed to resume. The event must be staffed by a professional, licensed caterer, permitted by the respective locality or municipality, and strictly adhere to health and safety guidance such as state gathering limits.

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The state is also doing away with its highly criticized “fixed dance zones” at catered events. Instead, only social distancing and masks will be required on the dance floor, according to the governor.

Indoor capacity limits for restaurants in New York City remained at 50% on Wednesday. Elsewhere in the state, the limit remained at 75% of a restaurant’s capacity.

Restaurants and bars in the state have been struggling to stay afloat for more than a year because of strict health and safety restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A survey released by the NYC Hospitality Alliance in September 2020 found nearly 9 in 10 restaurants, bars and nightlife venues in the city could not pay full rent in August.

Many restaurant owners in New York City have shuttered their doors for good, while others have tried to make due with limited outdoor seating space and indoor capacity limits.

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