Restaurant Reopening Plan Unclear

Governor Cuomo provided the first look at his plan for reopening the State recently establishing a four phase strategy that delays opening restaurants and bars until phase three. The plan uses objective health data to determine when a region may begin the process of reopening, with the earliest date a region can begin the reopening process set at May 15th. Several Upstate regions may meet the health criteria by that date, but the Capital District, Hudson Valley, and the Downstate regions will likely get a later start reopening.

The Governor’s plan authorizes very limited activity during phase 1 – construction and manufacturing provided social distancing is maintained. Phase 2 allows professional services, finance & insurance, retail, administrative support, and real estate/rental leasing businesses to reopen. Restaurants, food service, hotels and accommodations get the green light to reopen in phase 3 while arts, entertainment, recreation, and education facilities have to wait until phase 4 to reopen. While the plan was presented by Governor Cuomo as the blueprint for moving forward, industries have been encouraged to present reopening plans to the State.

So when can you open your business?

If your region enters phase 1 on May 15, under Governor Cuomo’s current plan it would enter phase 3 – when restaurants and taverns can be open – on June 12. If we’re successful moving up restaurant and tavern openings to phase 2, then you could reopen as soon as May 29.

At this point it appears the Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, and Southern Tier regions could be eligible to enter phase 1 on May 15. The Capital District, Mid-Hudson, and Western New York regions look to be a couple of weeks behind that timeline, with Downstate being another couple of weeks away from reopening. This changes regularly so come back to our website for updates.

We’re in the process of putting the finishing touches on our plan – a key element of which will be moving up the reopening of restaurants and bars to phase 2. The CDC’s Interim Guidance for Restaurants and Bars recommends reopening with capacity limitations in phase 2 and without capacity limitations in phase 3, provided social distancing is maintained. Our plan will advocate the use of the CDC’s and Department of Health’s recommended social distancing and cleaning protocols and the FDA’s Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Pick-Up/Delivery Services During the Covid-19 Pandemic  to allow restaurants and bars to open as soon possible. We’ll urge the State to allow the temporary expansion of our premises so you can socially distance our customers without economically devastating your businesses and your workers. And we’ll seek the continuation of your ability to sell cocktails-to-go on a permanent basis – or at least as long as you’re operating under government restrictions.

Watch our website and Facebook page to get the most updated information on the State’s reopening plans and the COVID-19 outbreak.