State Liquor Authority to provide nearly one million face masks to restaurant workers

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The State Liquor Authority announced a public-private partnership to give nearly one million face masks to restaurants and delivery workers across the state.

The masks are part of a shipment of 7,000,000 from FEMA and HHS to New York State as part of a multi-pronged approach to re-open American economic activity while continuing to limit the spread of COVID-19.   

Distribution of 900,000 face masks began on Wednesday, through a partnership with the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA) and the Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association (ESRTA) and food distributors Restaurant Depot, Baldor Specialty Foods, and Sysco Corporation.  The face masks are reusable cloth masks that can be washed for extended use.      

The masks are available through Restaurant Depot, Baldor, and Sysco, as well as at a number of businesses working with NYSRA including:

  • Buffalo Bisons baseball in Buffalo
  • Syracuse Banana in Syracuse
  • Rohrbach Brewing Company in Rochester
  • Lupo’s Bottling Company in Kirkwood
  • Longfellows Hotel and Restaurant in Saratoga
  • Fischer Foods in Congers
  • Antun’s Catering in Queens Village
  • Havana Central Restaurant in Queens Village

Restaurant and bar owners are urged to contact these food distributors and to work with NYSRA to get face masks, free of charge, for their workers. Food distributors will deliver free face masks to businesses along with their regular orders from 26 locations across the state.    

Additionally, the State has worked with DoorDash, Postmates, and Relay to ensure that all of their delivery workers have access to these face masks.  Grubhub and Uber Eats have indicated that they will continue to provide their own masks to all of their delivery workers in New York State free of charge.

“By allowing the rest of us to stay home, restaurant workers and delivery drivers are truly the unsung heroes in our efforts to contain the coronavirus, and we owe it to them to provide the resources they need to stay safe,” said SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley. “I am grateful to our partners in the food and beverage industry, as well as the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, for helping provide and distribute these lifesaving protections for our essential workers.”  

“We appreciate the leadership of Governor Cuomo during this crisis and his commitment to the health and safety our workers,” said Scott Wexler, Executive Director of the Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association. “These donated masks will help our members protect our communities from the spread of this virus while providing essential food and beverage service to help sustain them. We thank the State Liquor Authority and our food distributors for helping facilitate this.”

“We’re pleased to partner with the State Liquor Authority to make sure our members, restaurant employees and delivery workers around the state have access to facemasks. While we don’t yet know what restaurants will look like when the economy begins to reopen, we’re committed to sanitary practices that would keep our employees and customers safe,” said Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association.

Requested face masks will be distributed over the coming days and weeks through the food distribution companies near where the business is located, with distribution continuing while supplies last.

The initiative is intended to help businesses comply with the governor’s executive order requiring New Yorkers to wear a mask of face covering when out in public and in situations where social distancing is not possible.

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