New York loosens COVID restrictions for bars, restaurants

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 5:03 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - The state of New York has started to lift some restrictions for bars and restaurants but there are still challenges ahead.

“We are at a point now where we are going to take a major step forward,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-New York.

The governor announced Monday that capacity limits will be lifted in the coming weeks for food establishments, hair salons, barbershops and gyms.

The road to reopening is welcome news but the issue many bars in the area face is the governor sticking with the mandatory six feet of distance inside.

“If the CDC changes their guidance, we’ll change our guidance,” Cuomo said.

Bobby Hall, who owns Bobby’s Lounge on South Catherine Street in Plattsburgh, says his small bar physically can’t offer more seating with that rule still in place.

“You’re back down to the 33% of the people you can have in here, so you’re really not going back to full capacity,” Hall said.

The governor says an establishment could toss the six-foot rule if they only allow patrons who are fully vaccinated or show a negative COVID test. But Hall says that will be hard to monitor.

“You can’t do that, it’s a privacy thing right now. They have not passed any laws that say you got to carry that card with you or show it,” Hall said.

What is welcome news to the bar is the lifting of the food purchase requirement in order to sell alcohol.

“A lot of people didn’t want to order food, didn’t want to have to pay for it because they couldn’t afford it. They wanted a couple of drinks and that’s all they wanted,” Hall said.

The state is also lifting curfews. Bobby’s usually shuts down by midnight but has stayed open later in the past on a good Friday or Saturday night. He’s grateful to have that option again.

“It’s nice to be able to say, well, I got a license and if I can stay open until 2 and I got people in here, then I can do it,” Hall said.

Those capacity limits will be lifted on May 19 and the hours for indoor establishments like Bobby’s Lounge will be lifted on May 31.

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New York sets dates for major reopening from COVID

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