NEW YORK (WABC) -- Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced end dates for the curfews on food and beverage service in New York that were imposed across the state in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement came on the same day that the New York State legislature suspended several of the governor's executive orders, including one requiring the sale of food with alcoholic drinks at bars and restaurants.
"It is time to begin removing certain restrictions and regulations that are no longer necessary, so we can safely reopen and rebuild our state's economy," Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said.
Cuomo announced the following end dates for restaurant, bar and catering curfews:
--The midnight food and beverage service curfew will be lifted for outdoor dining areas beginning May 17 and for indoor dining areas beginning May 31.
--The 1 a.m. curfew for catered events where attendees have provided proof of vaccination status or a recent negative COVID-19 test result will be lifted beginning May 17, with the curfew for all catered events set to be lifted May 31.
--Catered events can resume at residences beginning May 3 above the state's residential gathering limit of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, as long as the events are staffed by a professional, licensed caterer, permitted by the respective locality or municipality, and strictly adhere to health and safety guidance, including social and event gathering limits, masks, and social distancing.
--Also on May 3, the guidance for dancing among attendees at catered events will be aligned with neighboring states, replacing fixed dance zones for each table with social distancing and masks.
--Starting May 3, seating at bars will be allowed in New York City, consistent with the food services guidance that is in effect statewide.
Cuomo's announcement comes as New York Republicans and the NYC Hospitality Alliance said what is really hurting restaurant owners is the 12 a.m. curfew that is preventing restaurants from making money.
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, released this statement after the end dates were announced:
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. These outdated policies made it too difficult for too many small business owners and workers to support themselves and their families, and were a grave inconvenience to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.
Shortly after Cuomo's announcement, the state Senate repealed portions of three executive orders related to the pandemic.
"There are a number of unscientific, arbitrary executive orders that need to be terminated," state Senator Peter Oberacker said. "I truly hope today's action is the beginning."
In addition to the food-for-alcohol rule, lawmakers ruled that individuals who volunteer to take on significant pandemic-related government work will be treated as public officials, opening them to disclosure and transparency rules, and altered an order related to vaccine administration and penalties for improper administration.
"We thank the state for listening to our request for a reopening plan, bringing New York in line with many of our neighbors," said Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association. "With vaccinations going up and positivity rates going down, the hospitality industry can set our sights on rebounding this spring and summer as we scratch and claw our way back to profitability, which for many has seemed impossible."
Wednesday's headlines came one day after the CDC released updated guidance on facemasks that allow fully vaccinated individuals to be outside without their masks unless they're in a crowded environment like sporting events.
Medical experts saying the CDC's decision is a sign the vaccine is working.
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