New York lawmakers have lifted Andrew Cuomo‘s ‘unscientific’ rule that food must be served with all booze sales, just hours after the governor announced an end to the midnight curfew across the state’s bars and restaurants.
The Democrat-led state Legislature voted unanimously Wednesday to remove Cuomo’s controversial pandemic-era rule that required customers to order food when buying alcohol in bars and restaurants.
The repeal was made effective immediately, sending New Yorkers and members of the hard-hit hospitality industry to social media to celebrate the end of the ‘Cuomo Chips’.
It came the same day that Cuomo moved to lift other COVID-19-related restrictions impacting the state’s bars and restaurants.
The current midnight closing time for outdoor dining areas of bars and restaurants will now expire on May 17, followed by the indoor curfew on May 31, he announced.
Customers will also be able to sit at bars in New York City from May 3.
New York lawmakers have lifted Andrew Cuomo’s ‘unscientific’ rule that food must be served with all booze sales, just hours after the governor announced an end to the midnight curfew across the state’s bars and restaurants. Diners in NYC
The vote on the food directive sailed through the state Senate Wednesday with a 61-0 vote, followed by the state Assembly with a 149-0 vote.
The executive order was first introduced by the governor back in July, claiming it would help keep customers seated at tables and reduce crowding, that could fuel a spread of the virus.
But the rule was slammed by many customers and bar and restaurant workers.
The hospitality has been one of the hardest-hit by lockdowns over the last year and the rule was regarded as an additional burden to many establishments already struggling to stay afloat.
Many bars that did not before offer a food menu were left with no choice but to serve options to avoid fines while some argued it acted as a deterrent for many New Yorkers hoping to enjoy a drink after work.
To navigate the rule, many establishments got creative, with $1 snacks such as cheese sandwiches and microwavable hot dogs becoming a staple on many menus.
The now infamous ‘Cuomo chips’ mockingly paying homage to the governor were a particular firm favorite among businesses and patrons alike.
While the governor’s name also cropped up on checks, with some restaurants billing customers for the ‘Wasteful Sandwich, Thanks Cuomo.’
The Democrat-led state Legislature voted unanimously Wednesday to remove Cuomo’s controversial pandemic-era rule that required customers to order food when buying alcohol in bars and restaurants
KEY DATES FOR NEW YORK RESTAURANTS AND BARS
- April 28 – restaurants and bars no longer have to serve food with booze
- May 3 – customers can sit at the bar in NYC
- May 17 – midnight curfew is lifted for outdoor areas
- May 31 – midnight curfew is lifted for indoor areas
State Senator John Mannion, a Democrat, said the rule was introduced ‘in good faith when COVID was ranging and vaccines seemed far away,’ but was now ‘arbitrary’ and ‘not based on science’.
‘The purchase of food with alcohol [is] arbitrary and not based on science,’ he said during discussions in the chamber Wednesday.
‘I’ve yet to find any scientific literature that finds a correlation between ordering food with your drink, and stopping the spread of COVID-19.’
Democratic State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement the rule was no longer necessary as more people continue to get vaccinated.
‘As more New Yorkers continue to get vaccinated, and our infection rates continue to decline, it is time to begin removing certain restrictions and regulations that are no longer necessary,’ she said.
But state Republicans hit out that Democrats should have repealed the rule long before now.
In early March, state lawmakers stripped Cuomo of his emergency executive powers which were handed to him to help tackle the pandemic.
To navigate the rule, many establishments got creative, with the now infamous ‘Cuomo chips’ mockingly paying homage to the governor. Social media images above show the creative ways bars and restaurants navigated the rules
The votes came as the governor was faced with mounting accusations of sexual harassment by multiple women and scrutiny was growing over an alleged cover-up of COVID-19 deaths in the state’s nursing homes.
Republican state Senator George Borello, who owns a restaurant, said the food order should have been rescinded by state lawmakers as soon as Cuomo lost his emergency powers.
‘While the pandemic was certainly not a crisis that we created, the economic crisis was absolutely manmade by one man, enabled by this body and by the Assembly,’ he said in the state Senate discussion.
‘So here we are 54 days after we were told the governor’s powers were rescinded. Fifty-four days after people on both sides of the aisle stood on this floor and said that this particular executive order requiring food be purchased with alcohol was unscientific, and very damaging. We waited 54 more days to do something about it.’
Meanwhile, social media users were more than happy to wave goodbye to Cuomo chips Wednesday posting photos of the workaround snacks they have become accustomed to over the past nine months.
‘Goodbye, cuomo chips. see you later microwaved tater tots. au revoir, grilled cheese,’ one person tweeted.
‘I probably shouldn’t be as excited as I am that I will no longer have to buy food with alcohol. That said, my favorite will always be the ‘Wasteful Sandwich, Thanks Cuomo,’ wrote another.
Another person celebrated no more ‘cuomo soup aka bloody mary mix in a water cup’.
The changes came just hours after Cuomo announced the lifting of the curfew on bars and restaurants from next month, letting the Big Apple regain its nickname of the city that never sleeps.
The governor announced that the midnight curfew will be removed outdoor from May 17 and indoor from May 31 across the state and bar seating will return to the city from Monday.
The curfew had been extended from 11pm to midnight earlier this month after establishments had been restricted to 10pm closing time since they reopened last summer.
Social media users were more than happy to wave goodbye to Cuomo chips Wednesday
‘We know the COVID positivity rate is a function of our behavior, and over the last year New Yorkers have remained disciplined and continued with the practices we know work to stop the spread of the virus,’ Cuomo said in a statement announcing the changes.
‘Everything we’ve been doing is working – all the arrows are pointing in the right direction and now we’re able to increase economic activity even more.
‘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.’
Meanwhile, the 1 am curfew currently in place for catered events where attendees can prove they are either vaccinated or are have tested negative will also be lifted on May 17.
For all other catered events, the curfew expires May 31.
Catered events can also resume at individual homes starting May 3 above the current gathering limit of 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors if COVID-19 precautions are followed.
Photos of food and checks posted on social media in recent months about Cuomo’s food rule
Dance zones at weddings and celebrations will also no longer be required from next week.
Cuomo has slowly rolled back restrictions on the hard-hit restaurant industry, last month expanding indoor dining capacity in New York City from 35 percent to 50 percent.
Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, welcomed the latest changes.
‘New York City’s restaurants and bars have been financially devastated by COVID-19 restrictions and it’s great news that the state will finally undo the barstool ban and lift the arbitrary midnight curfew,’ he told The Gothamist.
‘These outdated policies made it too difficult for too many small business owners and workers to support themselves and their families, and were a grave inconvenience to customers.
‘Lifting these restrictions is an important step forward for restaurants and bars across New York City, and we will continue working with the state to safely and completely reopen our hospitality industry, bring back jobs and sustain vital small businesses.’
Cuomo also Wednesday moved to lift other COVID-19-related restrictions impacting the state’s bars and restaurants. New Yorkers dine in Manhattan earlier this month
The current midnight closing time for outdoor dining areas of bars and restaurants will now expire on May 17, followed by the indoor curfew on May 31. Customers will also be able to sit at bars in New York City from May 3. New Yorkers enjoy an evening out in Greenwich Village