COVID restrictions are being loosened to allow bars and restaurants in New York to remain open an extra hour starting this weekend.
Beginning Sunday, bars and restaurants can remain open until 11 p.m. statewide, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.
“Our decisions are based on science and data and we adjust as the virus adjusts. The infection rate and hospitalizations have continued to significantly decline,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Current regulations call for all bars and restaurants to close at 10 pm.
His move comes after several restaurants in Erie and Monroe counties sued and got a temporary restraining order to halt the original curfew at their establishments -citing low restaurant spread data and declining infection rates. That order was rescinded by a higher court on Wednesday, with a scheduled court review of the curfew expected next month.
New York’s seven day rolling average of positive cases on Friday was 4.04% with 7,068 patients hospitalized, a decline in 274 patients.
In a prepared statement, the New York State Restaurant Association said they were "grateful for another step."
"After a year of incredible economic hardships, every guest counts right now. Loosening the curfew will allow operators to comfortably seat guests at 9 p.m., bringing in business that had previously been cut off," the statement from Association president and CEO Melisa Fleischut said.
Jimmy Butera, owner of Butera's Craft Beer & Pizza in Hamburg said the constant back-and-forth nature of the dining curfew has made it a roller coaster for many restaurant owners.
"It's taxing on a business owner and its employees for sure, but it's great news, and it's definitely a step forward," Butera said. "But we were hoping we could get an extended until, 12 or later. Myself, it doesn't affect because 11 o'clock is normally when we would close on a weekend. So it doesn't really affect us as much as some other places out there. But, I feel their pain and I get where they're coming from, and really wishing that we could get this behind us a whole lot quicker than that later."
While some may think late-night hours only effect bars and clubs, Butera said many fine dining restaurants were hurt by the 10 PM curfew.
"Some of your five star restaurants, where you're going in for dinner, and it's an hour and a half, two hours, you're going in at seven o'clock, and then gotta be out by 10. So they lost a whole seating in their dining room, which is huge," he said.