NEW YORK — Monday marked a new milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily for local business owners ready to keep their doors open a bit longer than they have for the past year.
For restaurants and bars across the state, including in New York City, the midnight curfew for outdoor dining areas at restaurants and bars is lifted — meaning last call is no longer required at 11:30 p.m.
“There’s light at the end of tunnel,” said Ryan O’Neill who runs Iggy’s Bar and Restaurant on Manhattan’s upper east side. “12 p.m. – 4 a.m. is when we are busiest, especially Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The curfew took bulk of our business away.”
He said the pandemic closures and curfews almost closed the pub down for good.
Business went from $4,000 to $5,000 s a night before the pandemic, to barely $400 to $500 with 10 p.m. and midnight curfews.
But Monday was a major milestone for the recovery of the bar and restaurant industry, which was hit hard by pandemic lockdowns as the midnight curfew for outdoor dining was lifted.
Indoor dining curfews will stay in place until the end of the month.
“It’s a step forward — small step or big step, everything helps right now,” O’Neill said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called it a comeback, as the city’s COVID-19 infection rate keeps declining and the number of New Yorkers getting vaccinated is increasing.
“You could feel New York City coming back, and you could see it all over the city,” he said during his daily press conference Monday.