Assembly Minority Request Required Justification for Cuomo’s Continued Curfews on Restaurants and Bars

Members of the Assembly Minority Conference today wrote to Speaker Carl Heastie and colleagues in the Majority Conference seeking the official notification from Gov. Cuomo and certification from Dr. Howard Zucker, Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner, related to the recent extension of the 11 p.m. curfew on the state’s restaurants and bars.

A copy of the letter is available here.

Executive Order 202.101, recently adopted by the governor, extended his directive forcing establishments to close their doors at 11 p.m. This directive remained in place despite the fact that as of April 5, curfews were lifted for pool halls, casinos, bowling alleys and fitness centers.

The Cuomo Administration is now required to notify Majority Leaders and relevant committee chairs in the Legislature prior to extending or modifying Executive Orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the DOH commissioner must certify that actions are in the best interest of public health.

“Gov. Cuomo is required by law to provide the Legislature with the reasoning behind any changes to his existing Executive Orders. Thousands of restaurant and bar owners would love to hear the reasons why they’re forced to tell customers to leave at 11 p.m. while casinos and other businesses can operate all night long,” said Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R,C,I-Pulaski). “I look forward to our Majority colleagues providing this information, so we can keep the public and our constituents properly informed.”

“The governor’s contact tracing data does not support the need to be so restrictive on restaurants and bars,” said Assemblyman Christopher S. Friend (R,C,I-Big Flats), Ranking Minority on the Committee on Economic Development. “The curfew has been a great imposition to these struggling businesses that are trying to recover from the pandemic shutdown. These one-size-fits-all rules would have expired at the end of March. Unfortunately, the Legislature extended the governor’s powers indefinitely. People have antibodies and now we have vaccines. It is time for these restrictive rules to end.”

“While I welcome the governor’s decision to lift some of the curfews on pool halls, casinos, bowling alleys and fitness centers, his decision to exclude bars and restaurants makes no sense. These arbitrary restrictions on restaurants and bars are not evidence-based and have not been proven to limit the spread of this virus. If anything, restaurants and bars have smaller congregate settings than casinos and are far less likely to increase the spread of infection,” said Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R,C,I,SAM,ROS-Mahopac). “The administration’s decision to continue the curfew and food mandate on restaurants and bars serves as yet another example of why we need to fully repeal the governor’s expanded emergency powers and restore checks and balances in our state government.”

“Our Conference knows it’s long past time to remove the curfew restrictions for bars and restaurants. Small business owners and dedicated workers made sacrifices, took costly precautions and played by the rules. It’s time for them to thrive again. We know they can do it safely. We’re demanding answers from the Majority members who are allowing casinos, pool halls and bowling alleys to operate after 11 p.m., but not these family-owned community cornerstones,” said Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square).