The Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association commends Governor Cuomo for the recent decisions to eliminate cluster zone restrictions and to permit indoor dining in New York City. These actions recognize the declining infection and transmission rates across New York State and provide some hope for increasing revenue for struggling restaurant and tavern owners.

The steady improvement in the infection and transmission rates make clear that it’s time to re-examine another restriction imposed to address the surge – the 10 pm curfew. Restaurant and tavern owners and their workers can safely operate their establishment at any time. Compliance with the government’s restrictions is dependent on their commitment to following the rules – and they can do that as well at 9 pm as they can do it at 11 pm.

The Association is proposing a pilot program to allow restaurants and taverns to remain open until midnight during the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 7th. The State would assess compliance with the restrictions during the two-hour additional period and can then make an assessment about lifting the curfew, perhaps as soon as February 14th so Valentine’s Day dates don’t have to worry about turning into pumpkins.

“Lifting the curfew for even two hours would provide an additional table turn for restaurants and will let patrons stay to watch the end of the game, rather than being thrown out at 10 pm and gathering with friends to watch the second half or third period at someone’s home,” according to Scott Wexler, the Association’s Executive Director.

The 10 pm curfew was imposed as an additional restriction by Executive Order 202.74 on November 13th in anticipation of an increase in social gatherings and a surge in the outbreak. Now that the surge has subsided, we can return to operating under the New York Forward Phase Three Reopening Guidance which impose significant restrictions on the operation of these establishments – including a prohibition on patrons mingling or gathering. These strict rules and the industry’s compliance with them have prevented the spread of the virus while allowing the limited operation of these businesses.

“Now that New Jersey has lifted the 10 pm curfew and New Yorkers will have ready access to late night dining, the economic impact of New York’s curfew becomes more pronounced. But we recognize that the Governor’s willingness to lift the curfew is dependent on his confidence that restaurants and bars will continue to follow the rules, that we won’t let the late hour reduce our commitment to compliance with the public health protections,” said Wexler. “So, we propose a pilot – a test of a midnight curfew on Super Bowl Sunday. We’re asking the Governor to give New York’s restaurant and tavern owners a chance to earn his trust for a long-term change and to let our customers stay for the whole game,” Wexler said.