New York’s dining curfew ends, bar seating returns next month

April 28, 2021

Photo of The Spaniard in the West Village by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

Starting next month, the 12 a.m. curfew at New York restaurants and bars will end and bar seating will be allowed again, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday. Indoor bar seating, off-limits to customers in New York City since last March, will reopen on May 3. The midnight curfew will be lifted for outdoor dining on May 17 and for indoor dining on May 31.

Starting May 17, the state will lift the 1 a.m. curfew for catered events where attendees have provided proof of a negative COVID test or vaccination. The curfew at all other catered events will be lifted on May 31. On May 3, dancing will be allowed at catered events with social distancing and masks, replacing the “fixed dance zones” previously required.

“Everything we’ve been doing is working – all the arrows are pointing in the right direction and now we’re able to increase economic activity even more,” Cuomo said in a press release on Wednesday. “Lifting these restrictions for restaurants, bars and catering companies will allow these businesses that have been devastated by the pandemic to begin to recover as we return to a new normal in a post-pandemic world.”

Statewide, progress continues to be made on both keeping the COVID infection rate low and increasing the rate of vaccinations. As of Thursday, the state’s seven-day average positivity was 2.06 percent, the lowest since November 7, and 45 percent of New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Indoor dining capacity in New York City was expanded to 50 percent last month, about four weeks after it was permitted again following a two-month closure because of a spike in coronavirus cases. Restaurants outside of New York City moved from 50 to 75 percent capacity on the same date.

Another COVID regulation put in place at the start of the pandemic could soon be lifted. The New York State Legislature said this week it plans to suspend the rule that required customers to order food when purchasing food at bars and restaurants, first put in place by Cuomo last July. There were reports of bars serving $1 “Cuomo Chips,” “just a few grapes” or a “handful o’ croutons,” as 6sqft noted.

“New York City’s restaurants and bars have been financially devastated by Covid-19 restrictions and it’s great news that the state will finally undo the barstool ban and lift the arbitrary midnight curfew,” Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement.

“These outdated policies made it too difficult for too many small business owners and workers to support themselves and their families and were a grave inconvenience to customers. Lifting these restrictions is an important step forward for restaurants and bars across New York City, and we will continue working with the state to safely and completely reopen our hospitality industry, bring back jobs and sustain vital small businesses.”


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