State Senate to act on 3 pandemic directives today

Apr 28, 2021

Democrats in New York will move to curb a handful of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pandemic-related directives Wednesday, including one that has required patrons at restaurants to purchase food if they’re planning to drink alcohol.

It’s the first time that Democrats in the Legislature have acted to reverse one of Cuomo’s orders after they approved legislation last month that limited the governor’s emergency powers.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Westchester) said the state’s declining COVID-19 statistics mean the long-standing directives can be scrapped.

“As more New Yorkers continue to get vaccinated, and our infection rates continue to decline, it is time to begin removing certain restrictions and regulations that are no longer necessary, so we can safely reopen and rebuild our state’s economy,” Stewart-Cousins said.

The Senate will move to suspend three directives issued by Cuomo over the past year.

The first has required individuals to purchase food at bars and restaurants when they’re drinking alcohol. The rule was opposed by restaurants and bars, some of which responded by offering small snacks, like chips, as food to accompany someone’s drink.

The second allowed people brought into the Cuomo administration temporarily to assist the state during the pandemic to avoid government disclosure rules. The directive allowed those individuals to avoid having to follow state ethics laws.

The third would reverse certain rules for vaccine suppliers that created certain penalties and prioritization rules.

Richard Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Cuomo, said the administration didn’t have a problem with the rules being lifted.

“With the numbers steadily decreasing, lifting this COVID-related restriction was something we were in the process of implementing in the coming days,” Azzopardi said. “We are pleased that the legislature agrees that we have made enough progress on COVID that New York is in a position to repeal this provision.”

Senate Republican Leader Robert Ortt, in a statement, said his colleagues welcomed an end to the food requirement for alcohol purchases at bars and restaurants, but would like to see Democrats go further.

“While we welcome an end to the nonsensical food with alcohol requirements, many restaurants are still struggling due to arbitrary curfew orders,” Ortt said. “Hopefully the Majority will step up and repeal this order as well.”

The Assembly would also have to move to scrap the directives for them to be fully reversed. The chamber hasn’t announced yet if they’ll take the same action Wednesday.