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Cuomo cracks down, says NY bars were never cleared to open

North Country bars say they were stunned by new guidelines
Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 6:27 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 17, 2020 at 8:42 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - Battling coronavirus by targeting bars-- Gov. Andrew Cuomo says if bars and restaurants in New York don’t serve food, they’ll be shut down. Our Kelly O’Brien found out what businesses have to say about that and what it might mean for you.

"I was stunned when the new guidelines came out and, frankly, I was kind of angry," said Gary Duquette, the bar manager at the Fourth Ward Club.

Duqette says the COVID-19 pandemic is the first time the bar has ever shut down since it opened more than a century ago.

"For over 120 years, this bar has never closed a single day of the year," Duquette said.

The bar staff says at first, they understood why they had to shut down.

"We knew that everybody had to do their part to stay healthy," Duquette said.

But now they say the governor is killing their business. Cuomo announced Thursday that bars and restaurants across the state must serve food with alcohol or shut down. He clarified Friday, saying these are not new guidelines and that bars never got the OK to open back up in the first place, only restaurants did.

"What they did is they took the outdoor dining provision and the additional space for outdoor dining, they didn't really have space for kitchen or dining, so they turned it into outdoor bars and here's a bag of potato chips. No, the law never allowed that," said Cuomo, D-New York.

That can put bar businesses in a pinch. Mary Pearl of Valcour Brewing says they are adding to their full dinner menu to be in compliance.

"So, what we are putting together is a very light, appetizer menu specifically to ensure that we meet all the criteria," Pearl said.

She fears these restrictions could lead to bars closing down and harming the North Country's already hurting economy.

"Really competition is the best thing to get a lot of people to come into the area and to be able to experience all of the different things we have here," Pearl said.

Bars I spoke with said it's not fair to establish these new regulations for all bars and restaurants after the people in the North Country have followed all of the rules and that our case numbers are still low.

“I feel like we are being punished for the sins of the south, I guess,” Duquette said.

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