Assembly, Senate Republicans: Lift the arbitrary 11 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants

ALBANY, NY —  Today, Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay and Senate Republican Leader Robert Ortt introduced joint resolutions (J541) to overturn Gov. Cuomo’s arbitrary 11 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants. Barclay, Ortt and members of their conferences have continued to speak out against confusing and unscientific mandates, like this one, inhibiting restaurants in the state.

“It’s obvious that we are no longer operating under a system where science is driving decisions. There is no data that explains lifting curfews on certain facilities and leaving bars and restaurants off that list. Overturning Gov. Cuomo’s senseless, arbitrary directives is as easy as passing a resolution. It’s time for Democrats to take that step,” said Leader Barclay (R,C,I-Pulaski).

“Despite claims by the Democrat Majorities that they revoked the governor’s emergency powers, there are still egregious mandates in place that have absolutely no scientific basis. These arbitrary rules remain in effect at the whim of one man — our embattled governor — and they continue to harm our small businesses.  I’m hopeful the Majority will bring our common-sense proposal to the floor and join us in providing some relief to our bars and restaurants that have been devastated by the pandemic,” said Sen. Ortt (R-Tonawanda).

Last November, the governor issued Executive Order 202.74 that imposed a 10 p.m. curfew for bars, restaurants, gyms, fitness centers and other facilities throughout the state. In February of this year, he extended the curfew to 11 p.m., and just last week, lifted it completely for gyms, fitness centers, casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys and billiard halls beginning April 5. Restaurants, however, are being held to a different standard with no apparent explanation as they await a “reevaluation” next month.

“We feel that the curfew was unscientific and unnecessary from its beginning. From when indoor dining was reopened in June we were able to operate safely at 50 percent occupancy until 4 a.m. nightly. The added hours allowed us to serve more customers in a safe environment. The ridiculous 10 p.m. curfew in November found us turning away guests as the same patrons had to be squeezed into a day that was six hours shorter. The latest order by the governor that allows pool halls, bowling alleys and casinos to operate without a curfew is just another blow to our industry that has proven we can operate safely. I would love an explanation on the science and facts behind this decision. We are constantly checked by the State Liquor Authority multiple times per week with no issue. It’s time to lift this curfew and let us operate responsibly as we have proven we can do,” said Mike McElwee, Bay Shore Restaurant Committee.

“For months we were told by the governor that we must follow the science and trust the facts. Now, as we approach the one-year anniversary of when these policies were first implemented, the science is telling us that the restaurants and bars are among the lowest contributors to the COVID-19 transmission rate, and the facts are telling us that these policies are destroying our state’s economy by forcing small businesses to shutter permanently,” said Assemblyman Michael Reilly (R-South Shore). “I invite my Democrat colleagues to follow the science, trust the facts and show they support our small businesses by voting in favor of this resolution.”

“The 11 p.m. restaurant curfew and food requirements have no basis in logic or data. Are we really supposed to believe that casinos and pool halls are safe from COVID after 11 p.m., but not restaurants? Or that having a cheeseburger on the table keeps us safe from the virus? If the governor refuses to lift these nonsensical rules, the Legislature can and should repeal them immediately,” said Assemblyman Jarett Gandolfo (R,C,I-Sayville).

“The executive orders put in place by Gov. Cuomo are the reasons we fought so hard to return his emergency powers back to elected legislators. Here on Eastern Long Island, these arbitrary and ever-changing mandates have crippled the economy and have many small businesses fearful that this year’s tourist season may not be enough to keep them out of bankruptcy. Since he won’t listen to the plight of the restaurant, bar and catering hall owners, we are moving to lift his mandates legislatively,” said Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R,C,I-Riverhead).

“Gov. Cuomo’s ‘revoked’ emergency powers remain extraordinarily real and profoundly harmful to our bars, restaurants and hospitality businesses, which continue to struggle under his senseless mandates. Without a doubt, the 11 p.m. curfew is one of the most glaring examples of an unjustifiable, unscientific edict. Yet, despite having no impact on the virus, the curfew has had a terrible impact on the bottom lines of countless small businesses in the hospitality industry and their hardworking employees by reducing the number of patrons they can serve each evening, compounding the effect of capacity limits. These curfews are disappearing in neighboring states and New York needs to follow suit immediately,” said Sen. George Borrello (R,C,IP,LIBT-57th Senate District).

“The state keeping this arbitrary curfew in place is all you need to see to understand that the supermajority did nothing to meaningfully repeal the governor’s emergency powers. As someone who spent decades working as a waitress, bartender and restaurant manager, it is clear that those making these illogical rules have never spent any amount of time trying to run one of these businesses. While the governor and his political advisors continue to set arbitrary and contradictory rules from their ivory tower, it is the people in our communities who suffer the very real consequences. Our small businesses have made tremendous sacrifices in the name of public health, and now as we look to rebuild, it is time for the Legislature to do all that it can to put an end to these haphazard rules,” said Sen. Sue Serino (R,C,IP-41st Senate District).

“Our small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy and the heart and soul of our communities, have suffered greatly during this pandemic. While it is a positive step forward that the nonsensical curfews for most businesses have been lifted, the governor’s edict that curfews at restaurants and bars be maintained defies logic. These businesses are major employers in our communities and often the driving force to bring people to our business districts. Bars and restaurants have proven they can operate safely following the most up-to-date safety guidelines—it is long past time we give them the flexibility to operate at the hours they wish to operate,” said Sen. Alexis Weik (R,C-3rd Senate District).

The Assembly Republican Conference has been critical of weak measures taken in recent weeks to curb the governor’s executive authority. A recent bill enacted by Democrats in the Assembly, A.5967, merely removed the original April 30, 2021 expiration date of the governor’s authority and continues to afford the governor enormous executive latitude. The governor is still being permitted to modify or extend all of the directives he has issued to date.

Legislative Republicans have also criticized the governor and legislative leaders enabling his restrictive policies by calling for an end to his arbitrary rule that customers must purchase food with their alcoholic beverages. That policy continues to remain in place as well.