New Yorkers, Closing Time Is Now Midnight

Bars and restaurants in New York will soon get an extra hour to serve customers, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday. Starting on Monday April 19th, the previous COVID-19 curfew of 11 p.m. will be extended to midnight statewide.

Catered events are also getting a curfew extension, from midnight to 1 a.m.

The announcement was not unexpected, as Cuomo noted in March that the curfew would be reevaluated this month, and in New York City, we’re now seeing the “real world” effect of COVID-19 vaccines.

The 11 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants (a whopping 5 hours before New York’s historically late 4 a.m. closing time) has been in effect for months, and some in the industry have been pushing to get a later curfew throughout the pandemic.

Andrew Rigie of the NYC Hospitality Alliance cheered extra hour but said it’s not enough.

“The extra hour is good news for restaurants, bars and customers, but we need to also lift the rule that prohibits customers from being seated to eat at a bar in NYC, and revisit removing the requirement that a ‘food item’ be served with a drink,” Rigie said in a statement.

While the curfew extension will help the bottom line, with an extra hour of sales for establishments that have suffered over the past year, the health risks are less clear.

Epidemiologist Ellie Murray previously told NPR, “I’ve spoken with a lot of other epidemiologists and public health specialists, and we’re not really sure at all where the justification in terms of the science for these curfews is. I think that the assumption from leaders that are placing these curfews in effect is that some people will decrease their planned activities because of the curfew.”

Murray noted that the real concern was people moving their social activities to a smaller space, increasing the risk of COVID-19 spread, or attending illegal crowded parties.

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