Enforcing arbitrary rules has been one of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s glaring shortfalls during the novel coronavirus pandemic, and he’s shown no signs of letting up.
On March 17, Cuomo lifted the curfew he previously set for bowling alleys, casinos, gyms, movie theaters and pool halls. In November, he established a 10 p.m. curfew for specific businesses but adjusted it to 11 p.m. earlier this year. Beginning Monday, these companies will once again be allowed to establish their own hours of operation.
Unfortunately, bars and restaurants were not included on this list. They will remain subject to Cuomo’s curfew until further notice.
We hope any pending announcement declares that bars and restaurants also will be free to set their own hours. Creating a 10 p.m. curfew was an odd way of handling a surge that public health authorities recognized late last year.
How are people more likely to contract the coronavirus while sitting in a bar or restaurant at 10:17 p.m. than they were at 9:43 p.m.? What does the time of day have to do with the potential spread of infection? Wouldn’t the risk of catching the virus have more to do with the number of people inside a confined space rather than what it says on a clock?
It’s good that some businesses will soon be allowed to return to their normal hours. But Cuomo’s insistence that others remain under the curfew makes no sense and will continue to hurt them financially.
On this page Sunday, we published a column written by state Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River. He argued that Cuomo’s mandates have forced more than 8,000 business to close their doors for good over the past year.
Blankenbush wrote that a “one size fits all” approach has not worked for us in Northern New York. He said of Cuomo: “In his own numbers and presentation from December, only 1.43% of coronavirus cases could be traced back to restaurants and bars.”
Blankenbush is correct. While we understand some of the restrictive measures that Cuomo had to implement for businesses in the New York City region, they didn’t make sense for the small companies in this area during the early stages of the pandemic.
Cuomo finally adopted a localized approach to overseeing directives for businesses to ensure public safety. While we urged him to do this from the beginning of the crisis, better late than never.
So he needs to revisit this particular executive order and revise it to allow businesses more leeway. How companies operate should be based on the coronavirus statistics in that particular region.
Republicans leaders in the state Legislature introduced joint resolutions to overturn Cuomo’s ongoing curfew on bars and restaurants. According to a news release from the Assembly Minority Conference, Assembly Republican Leader William A. Barclay of Pulaski said: “It’s obvious that we are no longer operating under a system where science is driving decisions. There is no data that explains lifting curfews on certain facilities and leaving bars and restaurants off that list. Overturning Gov. Cuomo’s senseless, arbitrary directives is as easy as passing a resolution. It’s time for Democrats to take that step.”
We urge Democrats in Albany to listen to their Republican colleagues. They need to press Cuomo to lift the curfew and let bars and restaurants get back to serving their customers safety and responsibly.