New York to End Bar and Restaurant Curfew in May – The New York Times

New York will end its curfew on bars and restaurants next month.

Credit…Gabby Jones for The New York Times

New York will end next month a longstanding curfew that forced bars and restaurants to close early in a bid to fight the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Wednesday.

The announcement came a day after leaders in the State Legislature said they would move to suspend an unpopular directive that required customers to order food when purchasing alcohol at bars and restaurants. The repeal would take effect after it passed both legislative chambers in Albany, which could happen this week.

The curfew, which currently requires establishments to stop serving customers at midnight, will end statewide on May 17 for outdoor dining areas and May 31 for indoor dining.

Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, first ordered the restriction last November as the state tried to stave off a second surge of the virus, saying at the time that indoor dining was likely a cause of the spread. He loosened the curfew in recent months as cases have fallen, moving it from 10 p.m. to midnight.

The hospitality industry and some state lawmakers have long criticized the curfew as arbitrary, pointing to a lack of evidence that late-night dining was contributing in any meaningful way to the virus’s spread.

The state will also allow people in New York City to sit at bars starting on Monday, for the first time since Mr. Cuomo implemented a statewide shutdown last March. Even as establishments have been allowed to welcome customers indoors, patrons were required to be seated at tables.

The restaurant industry welcomed the news.

“It’s great news that the state will finally undo the bar stool ban and lift the arbitrary midnight curfew,” said Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, an industry group. “These outdated policies made it too difficult for too many small business owners and workers to support themselves and their families, and were a grave inconvenience to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.”

The state will also loosen restrictions on catered events at residences. Beginning on Monday, they can have more than 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, provided events follow any necessary mask and social-distancing directives. Curfews on all catered events will also be lifted next month.

Officials in the state have gradually taken steps to roll back virus-related restrictions as more New York residents become vaccinated and cases of the virus fall.

The city’s second wave is finally ebbing, a half-year after it began, with virus rates and hospitalizations plunging, though city officials warn that the epidemic is not close to over in the city.

On Monday, Mr. Cuomo said the state would next month raise the capacity limits on offices statewide to 75 percent from 50 percent and on gyms outside New York City to 50 percent from 33 percent.

He also last month raised the maximum capacity for indoor dining for restaurants in New York City to 50 percent, up from 35 percent. Restaurants in the rest of the state are allowed to serve customers at 75 percent occupancy.

Luis Ferré-Sadurní contributed reporting.