ALBANY, N.Y. — A COVID-era emergency order requiring people to order food with alcohol purchases at restaurants and bars in New York was lifted on Wednesday.
Lawmakers in the New York State Legislature voted to repeal the mandate issued in July 2020 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The resolution passed unanimously in the State Senate with a vote of 61-0 and then was passed in the Assembly Wednesday afternoon.
Speaking on the Senate Floor before the vote, state Sen. John Mannion, a Democrat from the Syracuse area who was a lead sponsor of the resolution, said that while he believes the rule was initiated “in good faith when COVID was ranging and vaccines seemed far away,” it has since become “arbitrary and not based on science.”
The requirement had forced some bars that don’t normally have a food menu to get creative so they could remain open and sell alcohol. Some bar owners created $1 menu items while others sold so-called “Cuomo chips” to get around the mandate.
The vote happened mere hours after Cuomo announced that the state’s midnight curfew on bars and restaurants would be lifted in May. The curfew on outdoor dining will end on May 17, but bars and restaurants will have to wait until May 31 to allow diners to stay indoors past midnight, according to the governor.
In response to Cuomo’s announcement, Republican Minority Leader Sen. Robert Ortt said many business owners don’t have another few weeks to wait for the curfew to be lifted.
“The governor may have announced that his arbitrary curfew will be lifted in a few weeks, but our small businesses can’t afford to wait another day,” he said in an emailed statement.
State legislators also voted on Wednesday to formally eliminate vaccination penalties and priority group regulations that they argued slowed down the vaccination process.
Anyone in New York who is 16 or older is eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. For more information on scheduling an appointment, visit the state’s COVID vaccination website or the New York City vaccine finder.
The Boogie Down Grind Cafe along Hunts Point Avenue at Seneca Avenue recently reopened after being closed for months.
Majora Carter is the owner and and urban revitalization strategist active in the South Bronx.
“We are still in pandemic mode. We don’t have full capacity inside yet. We are going to be creating more outdoor seating which is in homage to our hip-hop roots,” she said.