Local bars, restaurants call for 10 p.m. COVID-19 curfew to be lifted

Food and Drink

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — COVID-19 orange and yellow zone restrictions have been lifted in the Finger Lakes Region and across upstate New York, but there are still limitations.

While many people are excited, business owners are worried they’ll lose out on large groups due to table limitations and late-night crowds because of the 10 p.m. curfew.

Drew Nye, Owner of Roam Cafe, is expecting business to increase now that COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but he warns that’s not the case for all.

“10 p.m. is fine for restaurants,” Nye said. “Typically we would be open till 11 p.m. so we lose that last hour but it’s nothing too game changing for us. The big challenges is for bars, neighborhood bars, for sure.”

MORE | Restaurants reopening without zone restrictions: ‘This time feels different’

Owners Robbie’s Bar and Grill in Hilton say they rely on late night crowds, and without them, the restrictions are still crushing business. 

“He has really done nothing to increase our business, this doesn’t help us,” said Robbie Tennant, co-owner owner Robbie’s Bar and Brill.

The New York State Restaurant Association agrees. It sent a statement to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, asking him to extend the curfew to midnight.

“We thank Governor Cuomo for listening to the calls of restaurant operators and easing restrictions on our industry,” saif Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA).New York must continue to take steps towards reopening the economy, and the restaurant industry will do our part to keep our diners and our employees safe. We appeal once again to the Governor to consider extending the curfew to midnight so that our restaurants are able to have that last turn of diners, which is of vital economic importance to so many of the state’s restaurants. We look forward to our continued discussions with the Governor and his staff about how we can make this work together.”

“Super Bowl is going to be a ghost town once again here because who’s going to come into a bar when they have to leave before the game is even over,” Tennant said. “This is too long. This isn’t saving anyone’s lives we need to be open, we need the 10 p.m. curfew taken away.”

Tennant says she is part of a group pursing a lawsuit against the Governor for the curfew to be lifted. 

Gov. Cuomo did say in his press conference Wednesday he would consider changing the curfew, but not at this time.

“When you keep the restaurants open late, that tends to be more problematic, there tends to be more crowded, there tends to be more drinking, etc,” Gov. Cuomo said Wednesday. “With restaurants we’re trying to keep it for actual eating so at this time, so no we are not changing the actual curfew.”

Restrictions that were in place before the micro-cluster strategy was implemented include:

  • Retail & personal care: 50% capacity
  • Gyms and fitness centers: 33% capacity
  • Gatherings: Residential limit 10 people, non-residential limit 50 people
  • Restaurants outside of NYC: 50% capacity, 10 people maximum per table, 10 p.m. close for on-premises consumption
  • Social distancing and masks required, all businesses must comply with DOH/NYForward guidance

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