NY Gov. Cuomo orders end to late-night service at bars, restaurants

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb across New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is issuing new rules for bars, restaurants and gyms.


Restaurants, bars and gyms will have to close at 10 p.m. across New York state in the latest effort to curb the rapidly accelerating spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

The governor said people will also be barred from hosting private gatherings with more than 10 people, a step being taken two weeks before families traditionally get together for Thanksgiving.


Cuomo said the new restrictions, which go into effect Friday, are necessary because new coronavirus infections have been traced to that kind of socializing. Businesses can reopen each morning.

“Bars, restaurants, gyms, house parties, that’s where it’s coming from, primarily," Cuomo said.

The announcement was met with dismay from hard-hit restaurant owners and their advocates.

The move “is a huge blow to the restaurant industry that is desperately trying to stay afloat," said Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association.

Cuomo spoke as rates of coronavirus infection continued to take off in New York and elsewhere. He said 1,628 people were in the hospital across the state Tuesday for COVID-19.

Over the past seven days, New York has seen an average of 3,600 new infections and nearly 22 deaths per day due to COVID-19. The average number of new cases per day has risen 106% in the past 14 days, with most days bringing a jump from the day before.

As recently as late August, the state was averaging around 600 new cases per day. Tuesday, it recorded 4,820, a new high since late April.

“What we’re seeing is what they predicted for months,” Cuomo said. “New York is a ship on the COVID tide.”

The new closing time applies to all establishments that are licensed by the State Liquor Authority, Cuomo said. Only carry-out service will be allowed after that, he said.

The new restrictions will have to be enforced by local governments, including by the police in New York City, Cuomo said. He said that after 10 p.m., “If the lights are on and people are drinking, they get a summons.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio supports the new rules, a spokesperson tweeted.

“We must do everything we can to hold off a second wave and these steps will help us fight it back in New York City,” said the spokesperson, Bill Neidhardt.

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Cuomo shut down all nonessential businesses in the spring when New York was the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States and started allowing restaurants and other businesses to open at limited capacity when infection rates appeared under control.

Even without the early closing time, restaurateurs have complained that the restrictions make it difficult to stay in business. But Cuomo said further restrictions, including limiting restaurants to opening at 25% capacity across the state, may be necessary if COVID-19 numbers continue to rise.

“It’s tough on bars and restaurants. It’s tough in gyms. It’s tough on everyone. It’s tough on everyone,” Cuomo said. “I would say we are within sight of the finish line. The vaccine has been discovered. It has to be perfected, it had to be operationalized, but we see the finish line.”

Alfred Castricone, who owns a country-western nightclub, a neighborhood bar and a bowling alley in western New York, said the new closing time is just the latest in a string of pandemic restrictions that have made it difficult to keep his businesses afloat.

“For the first time in 50 years in business, I don’t know what I’m going to do," Castricone said at The New Four Aces in Blasdell, south of Buffalo. "I owed no money when this thing started and now I have $346,000 in loans and I’m over $800,000 in lost business. They change the rules constantly. And now he wants to close me down at 10 p.m. Where am I supposed to get more money?”

Castricone said his nightclub doesn't get busy until after midnight, when local factory shifts end, so he's going to have to shut it down. “I have a bunch of college kids working for me, I have single moms working for me, and guys with families. How are these people going to pay their bills?”

Castricone and several other nightclub owners are suing Cuomo and other state officials in federal court claiming the restrictions are unconstitutional. The case will be appealed after a U.S. District Court judge in Buffalo ruled against them, Castricone said.

Cuomo's announcement came days after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced that bars and restaurants in his state would have to halt indoor dining at 10 p.m. starting Thursday.