Cuomo Orders End to Late-Night Service at Restaurants

NEW YORK (AP/Hamodia) —
Empty food and drink establishments after an early closing at 8: 00 p.m., Monday, March 16, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Restaurants and gyms will have to close at 10 p.m. across New York state in the latest effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday. There are no restrictions on takeout or delivery for restaurants; the 10 PM curfew refers to sit-down dining only.

The governor said people will also be barred from hosting private gatherings with more than 10 people.

Cuomo said the new restrictions, which go into effect Friday, are necessary because new coronavirus infections have been traced to those types of activities. Businesses can reopen each morning.

“Restaurants, gyms, house parties, that’s where it’s coming from, primarily,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo spoke as rates of coronavirus infection continued to rise in New York and elsewhere. He said 1,628 people were hospitalized across the state for COVID-19 on Tuesday and that 21 people died.

Over the past seven days, New York has seen an average of 3,200 new infections and nearly 22 deaths per day due to COVID-19. The average number of new cases per day has risen by 85% in the past 14 days.

“What we’re seeing is what they predicted for months,” Cuomo said. “New York is a ship on the COVID tide.”

The new closing time applies to all establishments that are licensed by the State Liquor Authority, Cuomo said. Only carry-out service will be allowed after that, he said

The new restrictions will have to be enforced by local governments, including by the police in New York City, Cuomo said. He said that after 10 p.m., “If the lights are on and people are drinking, they get a summons.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio supports the new rules, a spokesperson tweeted.

“We must do everything we can to hold off a second wave and these steps will help us fight it back in New York City,” said the spokesperson, Bill Neidhardt.

Cuomo shut down all nonessential businesses in the spring when New York was the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States and started allowing restaurants and other businesses to open at limited capacity when infection rates appeared under control.

Even without the early closing time, restaurateurs have complained that the restrictions make it difficult to stay in business. But Cuomo said further restrictions, including limiting restaurants to opening at 25% capacity across the state, may be necessary if COVID-19 numbers continue to rise.

“It’s tough on bars and restaurants. It’s tough in gyms. It’s tough on everyone. It’s tough on everyone,” Cuomo said. “I would say we are within sight of the finish line. The vaccine has been discovered. It has to be perfected, it had to be operationalized, but we see the finish line.”

Cuomo’s announcement came days after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced that bars and restaurants in his state would have to halt indoor dining at 10 p.m. starting Thursday.

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