Restaurant curfews, food-with-alcohol rule coming to an end

Going out for drinks?

Soon, New Yorkers will no longer be required to order food with alcohol purchases while dining out.

Lawmakers voted Wednesday to repeal the mandate, which was issued as an executive order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last summer in order to mitigate crowding and mingling as bars and restaurants reopened during the pandemic.

As the trajectory of COVID-19 infections continues on a downward trend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo also announced Wednesday that a 12 a.m. food and beverage service curfew will be lifted for outdoor dining areas beginning May 17 and for indoor dining areas starting May 31.

“All the arrows are pointing in the right direction and now we’re able to increase economic activity even more,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday. “Lifting these restrictions for restaurants, bars and catering companies will allow these businesses that have been devastated by the pandemic to begin to recover as we return to a new normal in a post-pandemic world.”

Both state Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) and Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead) supported the measure to rescind the food-with-booze rule, which Mr. Palumbo described as “ridiculous.”

He said the governor’s orders “continue to hinder the recovery of Long Island’s struggling restaurant and hospitality industries” and called for legislators to take further action and end restaurant curfews sooner.

“Our restaurants and hospitality industry should not have to endure these restrictions for another day, let alone another month,” Mr. Palumbo said.

The governor also announced Wednesday that catered events may resume at residences beginning May 3, allowing attendance beyond the state’s current limit of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors so long as the events are staffed by a licensed caterer, permitted by the municipality and guests adhere to mask and social distancing guidelines.

A wedding and event-related rule that required marked “dance zones” for guests will also end to better align with policies in neighboring states. Instead, the dance zone guidance will be replaced with social distancing and mask requirements.

Ms. Giglio, who lobbied to ease the COVID-19 regulations on weddings with fellow lawmakers and the “Brides of Long Island,” group said brides, grooms and event venues are “ecstatic” about the changes.

She also said the curfew and food with alcohol rules were “arbitrary,” since masks were always required when patrons are up walking around.

“Just because there’s a burger in front of you, I don’t think that prevents you from getting Covid,” Ms. Giglio said Wednesday afternoon.

She sees the rollback as a relief for both business owners who are struggling to staff their kitchens and patrons who had to take on additional food expenses.

“We’re starting to roll back the executive orders and I look forward to seeing more and more of these every week as people are getting vaccinated and we’re reaching herd immunity,” Ms. Giglio said.

State officials Wednesday reported a statewide COVID-19 positivity rate of 1.81%.

There were 217,141 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered within the last 24 hours, officials said, and more than 1.1 million doses administered in the last seven days.

About 45% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. Suffolk County is right around the statewide average as the total number of residents with at least one dose stands above 661,000.

“To be clear: we will only be able to maintain this progress if everyone gets the COVID vaccine,” Mr. Cuomo said. “It is the weapon that will [win] the war and we need everyone to take it, otherwise we risk going backward.”