Gov. Cuomo: No more alcohol service without food orders at New York bars and restaurants

State News

ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a conference call with media members Thursday to give an update on the state of the coronavirus pandemic in New York state.

An update on the call regarding dining out: The governor said that all of New York state’s restaurants and bars could only serve patrons alcohol if they were ordering food too, and there could be no standing bar service.

“We are getting thousands of complaints,” Gov. Cuomo said.

The governor said outdoor dining was never meant to include outdoor bars independently.

“All establishments must only serve alcohol to people who are also ordering food,”Gov. Cuomo said. “The concept here was bars and restaurants would be allowed to do outdoor dining. That is a dining situation. You go with several people, you sit at a table and you have a meal. That would limit the exposure to the people at that table and then the tables are socially distanced. That’s if you’re eating a meal. If you’re not eating a meal and you’re just drinking, then it’s just an outdoor bar and people are mingling and they’re not isolated and individual tables, and that’s what we’re seeing. Also, no walk-up bar service — all service at bar tops must be only for seated patrons who are socially distanced by six feet.”

According to a press release from the governor’s office Thursday afternoon:

“All restaurants and bars statewide will be subject to new requirements that they must only serve alcohol to people who are ordering and eating food and that all service at bar tops must only be for seated patrons who are socially distanced by six feet or separated by physical barriers. Under current law, only establishments that serve food are permitted to serve alcoholic beverages. Citizens who see violations or are concerned can report complaints, including photos, to the State Liquor Authority at www.sla.ny.gov.”

Additionally, the governor said he would be implementing a “three strike policy,” in New York City. If a New York City establishment receives three strikes against them where social distancing and mask-wearing isn’t enforced, the establishment can be closed immediately.

The governor also said that “egregious” violations in New York City can force the revocation of a liquor license immediately. Gov. Cuomo also said establishments in violation will have their establishments listed on the state’s website so the public can see which places are or are not following guidelines.

“New Yorkers are outraged at these establishments,” Gov. Cuomo said on the Thursday conference call.

The governor said people just ordering drinks have led to problems of lingering, and increases the chance of viral spread. Although Gov. Cuomo said most of the issues reported have been downstate — with more than 5,000 instances of non-compliance being investigated downstate by the SLA — new alcohol service restrictions for food order requirements apply statewide.

“New Yorkers paid a dear price for COVID, and they are equally upset about these violations,” Gov. Cuomo said.

MORE | Gov. Cuomo: Bars, restaurants will lose liquor licenses if there are crowds

Breweries and wineries in New York state aren’t exempt from the change either. Representative from the governor’s office said food requirements and the list of violators will apply to all licensees with retail alcohol sale privileges, including manufactures, and tastings.

Per a previous executive order, bars and restaurants are still allowed to serve alcohol for takeout and delivery if those drink orders are accompanied by a food order as well.

On an afternoon conference call with media, the governor said phased reopening was for outdoor dining, and never intended for outdoor bars exclusively.

“Our intention was always about outdoor dining, with tables being socially distanced — that’s what we approved,” Gov. Cuomo said on the afternoon conference call Thursday. “We did not approve outdoor bars with 100 people mingling outside in a block party. If they think outdoor dining meant outdoor bar, they’re wrong.”

The governor said he would be relying on local governments to enforce compliance.

“Local governments need to be diligent and I ask them to do that once again,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I am asking them to do it publicly. I am asking them to do it privately. I understand enforcement is not politically popular. I’ll tell you what’s less politically popular: if we have to close down a region because compliance wasn’t done. That would be less politically popular.”

The governor kicked off the morning call by saying that New York state was sending support teams to Houston, Texas to assist the area which has seen a recent surge of coronavirus cases. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner joined Gov. Cuomo on Thursday morning’s conference call.

“We are facing a situation where our numbers have surged, more people are testing positive, showing up in our hospitals and our ICUs,” Turner said. “Testing is a big issue and this virus is having a disproportionate impact on low-income communities and people of color. So I thank you and your team Governor Cuomo for your assistance.”

The governor said he is concerned about a man-made second wave. He said the Spanish Flu from a century ago had a second wave, but from a mutated version of the virus. The governor says this pandemic is different in that it’s the same virus, just a lack of preparation and prevention.

Regarding the latest virus data, the governor said 14 New Yorkers died Wednesday. There are 813 virus hospitalizations statewide, down 18 from the previous day. Of more than 70,000 tests conducted, only 1.06% came back positive, according to the governor.

The governor also announced that travel form compliance went up to 92% after the state announced fines for failure to complete the form. Earlier this week, the Gov. Cuomo announced out-of-state travelers from the 22 designated states with the highest infection rates must provide local authorities with contact information upon entering New York to help enforce quarantining or they’ll face a fine of up to $2,000 if they don’t supply that information.

MORE | 4 more states added to New York coronavirus travel advisory, 22 total on updated list

“As we continue our science-based phased reopening, the number of hospitalizations and our rate of positive tests remain steady and low,” Gov. Cuomo said in a press release. “But we need to remember our success fighting this virus is a function of our own actions. Mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing – basic as they may seem – are critical to controlling the spread of this virus. Especially now that we are seeing spikes in cases throughout the country, this is not the time to let up – especially on compliance enforcement. We know the prescription and we know it works – we just need to be smart and do it.”

Most recent New York state coronavirus data, according to the governor’s office:

  • Patient Hospitalization – 813 (-18)
  • Patients Newly Admitted – 71 (-23)
  • Hospital Counties – 31
  • Number ICU – 165 (+0)
  • Number ICU with Intubation – 88 (-6)
  • Total Discharges – 71,867 (+85)
  • Deaths – 14
  • Total Deaths – 25,014

Of the 72,685 tests conducted in New York State yesterday, 769, or 1.06%, were positive. Each region’s percentage of positive tests over the last three days is as follows:

REGIONMONDAYTUESDAYWEDNESDAY
Capital Region1.70%2.10%0.80%
Central New York1.30%1.30%1.00%
Finger Lakes1.40%1.20%0.90%
Long Island2.00%1.00%0.90%
Mid-Hudson1.60%1.40%1.10%
Mohawk Valley1.60%1.00%1.00%
New York City1.40%1.30%1.20%
North Country0.50%0.30%0.60%
Southern Tier0.80%1.30%0.50%
Western New York2.00%1.60%1.00%

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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