ALBANY, N.Y. (PIX11/WIVB) — Slowly but surely, New York is returning to business as usual. New York will push back closing time at bars, restaurants, and catered events, starting Monday. Bars and restaurants can now operate until midnight, and catered services can run until 1 a.m.
It’s the latest change as the state continues to relax coronavirus-related restrictions. The executive order requiring patrons to buy food with a drink remains in effect.
Governor Cuomo made the announcement last week along with the return of auto and horse racing. Restaurants have pleaded for the 11 p.m. curfew to be lifted, saying that pandemic restrictions were hurting their business. Some Republicans in Albany say that the extra hour may help some businesses but there shouldn’t be a curfew at all.
Some business owners say their customers are frustrated with not only the curfew but also the changes. Steven Marchione, the owner of Casa Di Francesca’s in Buffalo, said, “You know—great. Another hour. But really, like, how—what’s the logic behind that?”
A lawsuit opposing the restaurant curfew hit a snag in court over the weekend, when the judge in the matter reasoned that because the petition was challenging a state executive order that was technically expired, he could not rule on the merits of the suit. A spokesperson says attorneys behind the suit are not giving up, and that the curfew is arbitrary due to the lack of evidence of viral transmission in these establishments.
Still, there was a sold-out show at the West Bank Cafe in New York City on Sunday night, featuring cabaret Singer Billy Stritch with temperature checks at the restaurant filled to 50% capacity.
Along with martinis, there was also excitement in the air that starting Monday, the restaurant curfew would be an hour later. “It’s a step in the right direction,” said Steve Olsen, the owner of the West Bank Café. “We have partitions, filters, masks. Most of our customers are vaccinated. We’re excited about the city opening.”
Stritch called it “the best news ever.” He said, “Every milestone is just more hope. I am very heartened and I feel the city’s coming back little by little.”
Another sign that New York is gradually reopening happened Sunday, when the longest-running play in New York City history reopened off-Broadway, marking its 34th anniversary.