NYS Senate & Assembly Republicans Push Removal of 11:00 p.m. Bar/Restaurant Curfew

Senate Republican Leader Robert Ortt, Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay, and members of their conferences today announced the introduction of a concurrent resolution (J541) to rescind Governor Cuomo’s 11 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants.

Last November, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.74 that imposed a 10 p.m. curfew for bars, restaurants, gyms, fitness centers, and other facilities throughout the state. Earlier this year, he extended the curfew to 11 p.m., and just last week, lifted it altogether for gyms, fitness centers, casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, and billiard halls beginning April 5. However, he left rules in place for bars and restaurants, saying it would be reevaluated next month. Many Republicans are calling these remaining rules arbitrary and lacking in an overall logic.

“Despite claims by the Democratic 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 commonsense proposal to the floor and join us in providing some relief to our bars and restaurants who have been devastated by the pandemic,” said Leader Ortt.

“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.  

“We need to lift the curfew on bars and restaurants, just as the state has done for other businesses. Our bars and restaurants should not have to wait until late April to fully open. With Easter around the corner and the nice weather here, people are starting to go out more. They are beginning to travel, and they want to support our local bars and restaurants. No more delays. Let’s lift these onerous restrictions and let them do their work,” said Senator Pam Helming

“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.

Legislative Republicans have been leading plans to repeal the Governor’s emergency powers since last May. On March 5th, the Majorities put forward a Democrat-negotiated bill with the Governor’s office that was intended to remove the Governor’s emergency powers. However, Republicans believe that bill did not go far enough and was not an actual repeal.

Under the bill passed by the Majorities — and agreed to by the Governor’s office — directives already made by the Governor still remain in effect, and he maintains the ability to modify or extend them. Senator Gianaris stated “if there is something in there you don’t like, put it in a resolution and call for its repeal. We have the ability to do that with a simple majority.”

Earlier this month, the New York State Senate Republican Conference announced the introduction of another concurrent resolution (B477) that would rescind Governor Cuomo’s mandate that prohibits bars and restaurants from serving alcoholic beverages to patrons who do not order food. The Majority has so far not allowed the resolution to the floor for a vote, despite indicating support for doing so on the floor of the Senate on March 5th.