NEW YORK — The Friday night “late dinner” crowd will have to wait at least a few more weeks to sit down for those midnight meals, at least in New York.
The city continuing to make the pre-emptive move to ward off another surge in COVID-19 cases, an extension of the existing 11 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants until May 6.
That is not the kind of news the staff at Bhatti Indian grill wants to hear, especially this time of year.
General Manager Abla Atoubi says the restaurant was just starting to come back to life.
“It was not expected,” said Atoubi. “Every time we see some light, new rules come out, new curfews come out. We’re not able to tell as of now, we’re hoping by mid-summer we will be hopefully able to stay open at least until midnight.”
What’s the motivation? Unlike gyms and movie theatres, which require visitors to wear masks at all times. Indoor dining is obviously a mask-less activity and health officials say a potentially more perilous one as the night unfolds and the alcohol continues to pour.
“Whatever we can do to protect the city and like, keep it going, as long as we can to keep everyone safe,” said one diner.
In a statement released Friday, New York State Senate Republicans accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of politicizing indoor dining.
“We have had enough. Our bars and restaurant owners have been struggling for survival now for more than a year. It’s been clear for months the governor isn’t following medical science — he’s following political science,” said New York State Senate Republican leader Rob Ortt.
Melissa Fleischut, President and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, says members have demonstrated they can be consistently safe.
“The bars and restaurants around the state really feel that we’re as safe at 11:30 as we are at 8:30, the rules and restrictions don’t change. We’re always responsible for what happens inside our establishments, so they would like to see it extended, completely lifted. Back to 4 a.m. closing,” said Fleischut.