Cuomo announces date to lift curfew on bars and restaurants throughout May

Outdoor dining shacks along East 53rd Street in April 2021.
Photo by Mark Hallum

Bars and restaurants hoping to serve at expanded hours – for pandemic standards – will need to wait it out another month after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the dates for when the 12 a.m. curfew on service would lift.

For those dining outdoors, May 17 will be the date when you can socialize at your favorite watering hole or eatery after the midnight bell rings while businesses looking to serve dining indoors will need to wait until May 31.

“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,” Cuomo said. “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.”

But business owners who have been chomping at the bit to overthrow the yoke of what they see as the Cuomo administration’s senseless crackdown on restaurants, for which there is little scientific evidence of increased risk of infection from these activities. 

The NYC Hospitality Alliance, however, are counting their blessings, especially after progressed announced last night that the state legislature had voted to repeal Cuomo’s executive order requiring a food item to be ordered with a drink as well as the administration allowing patrons to belly up to the bar – socially distanced between parties – just the before times.

“New York City’s restaurants and bars have been financially devastated by Covid-19 restrictions and it’s great news that the state will finally undo the barstool ban and lift the arbitrary midnight curfew,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said. “These outdated policies made it too difficult for too many small business owners and workers to support themselves and their families, and were a grave inconvenience to customers.”

The New York State Restaurant Association said after the decision by the legislature on Tuesday night that the requirement that patrons need to buy at least one food item, be it a bag of chips, will bring a little relief to business owners.

“We’re encouraged by the news that the State Legislature plans to eliminate the burdensome mandate that food be purchased with alcohol,” Melissa Fleischut, president of the NYSRA, said. “This will singlehandedly boost the bottom line for restaurants and bars all over the state, and many have yet to reopen because of this specific requirement.”

Tuesday’s motion by the legislature represented an exercise in authority reclaimed from Governor Andrew Cuomo after friction between him and state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Following a series of scandals tearing at confidence in the Cuomo’s leadership, the legislature moved to repeal executive orders with 50% vote among representatives.