The continued hardship that bars and restaurants in New York have suffered through the Covid-19 pandemic continues as they will no longer be allowed to serve alcohol to customers unless they also order food, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said announced. In addition, patrons will no longer be allowed to order alcohol by walking up to bars, customers will only be allowed to order and consume their drinks while seated at least 6 feet apart.
Starting in Phase 3, the State Police, the Department of Health (DOH), and State Liquor Authority (SLA) began patrolling New York City as well as the surrounding suburbs. Apparently, this enforcement did not go far enough for the governor’s taste. Now, any establishment that receives three violations will be closed for business, and “egregious” violations can result in an immediate loss of a liquor license. Furthermore, while New York City is on track to enter Phase 4 of reopening on Monday (July 20th), there will be no additional indoor activity in the city, including shopping malls, gyms, and movie theaters.
There are two major issues at play here. The first is that the city and state have been changing the rules so often, that the odds are high that they could unintentionally be in violation. This heavy-handed enforcement is going to put already struggling bars in a worse position on the point where they will be forced out of business. Also, the state set out very specific goals for each region with metrics that everyone needed to hit. New York City by all accounts has met the Phase 4 requirements, just as bars and restaurants met reduced indoor requirements but the goalposts continue to be moved even as the numbers remain flat. Of course, this is a global pandemic and as such, things change but there are different options that the state could offer up. The utter inflexibility of the state is making life for small businesses much worse than it needs to be.