BLACK RIVER — For more than a year now, our restaurant and bar owners have been subject to ever-changing regulations from the executive mansion. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has put more than 8,000 restaurants and bars out of business since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Between lockdowns, curfews and overregulation, the pandemic has simply been an unsustainable time for these businesses. While our restaurants need to be safe and responsible, they should not have been given the same rules as New York City restaurants.
This “one size fits all” approach simply does not work in our region. Our restaurant and bar owners who are trying to make ends meet have done an admirable job making accommodations and meeting state regulations.
This commitment to safety and operating in a new environment needs to be met with continued reopening. The governor recently announced that the 11 p.m. curfew would be lifted for a number of social establishments such as casinos, bowling alleys, movie theaters and billiard halls. Notably, restaurants and bars were excluded from this list.
Since last March, we have been lectured by this governor to follow the science. In his own numbers and presentation from December, only 1.43% of coronavirus cases could be traced back to restaurants and bars.
The hardworking men and women who operate our restaurants and bars need to be given their freedom to operate. The hard curfew is only making things worse for people, not better.
A restaurant should be able to determine when it will close on its own. This even means it could close before 11 p.m.; but for many, it is difficult to force paying customers out the door at 11 p.m., especially on a weekend.
Not only do restaurants and bars have to navigate the curfew, they have a ludicrous mandate to serve food with any order of an alcoholic beverage. This has deterred customers throughout the pandemic.
It is the peak of governmental overreach. There is absolutely no science in favor of serving food with an alcoholic beverage to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Infection rates within New York continue to go down. We need to make sure more restaurants and bars do not go down with it.
The governor should lift the curfew and mandatory food requirements immediately. If it is safe to be in a casino past 11 p.m., it should be more than safe to support your favorite local restaurant or bar past the same time.
As always, please feel free to reach out to my office at 315-493-3909 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, represents the 117th District in the state Assembly.