On Friday, New York Senate Republican Leader Robert Ortt was joined by State Sens. Ed Rath and George Borrello, and Assembly members Angelo Morinello and Mike Norris, to discuss a newly introduced resolution (J541) to rescind Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 11 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants. The event was held at Soliday’s Restaurant in Niagara Falls.
Last November, Cuomo issued executive order 202.74, which imposed a 10 p.m. curfew for bars, restaurants, gyms, fitness centers and other facilities throughout New York. Earlier this year, he extended the curfew to 11 p.m. Just last week, he lifted it all together for gyms, fitness centers, casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys and billiard halls beginning April 5. However, he left the 11 p.m. curfew in place for bars and restaurants.
Western New York’s positivity rate currently sits below 3% – fourth-highest among the 10 state regions.
“Earlier this month, we heard the Democrat majorities claim that they had revoked the governor’s emergency powers and had taken back authority from him. Clearly, that was all theatrics, or else this egregious, non-scientific mandate would no longer be in place,” Ortt said. “These arbitrary rules remain in effect at the whim of one man, our embattled governor, and they continue to harm our small businesses. The longer Democrats in the state legislative majorities refuse to act in bringing our commonsense proposals to the floor, the longer these bars and restaurants will be forced to suffer. The prolonged inaction by Democrats is killing our state’s restaurant industry.”
Morinello said, “The pandemic is not over and we know this. However, as the availability of the vaccine increases, and our research and understanding of the virus improves, we should be doing everything to reopen closed industries and help revitalize the businesses and people, that are struggling. We have been told that science will guide the reopening of businesses in this state, but this apparently does not apply to restaurants and bars. Forcing customers to order food with a beverage order and restaurants to close their doors by 11 is not science-based policy and is exacerbating the already bleak situation for restaurant and bar owners.”
Norris said, “Restaurants and taverns have been crushed during this pandemic due to no fault of their own. One minute they are open, then following a Gov. Cuomo press conference, they are instantly shut down or told they must sell food with a beer. These arbitrary decisions with no little rhyme or reason have caused significant and long-lasting hardship and even many permanent closures as a result. It’s long past time that these burdensome restrictions be lifted and that’s why I join Leader Ortt and my colleagues in urging the downstate driven majorities to enact resolutions repealing them immediately.”
Legislative Republicans have been leading the charge to repeal the governor’s emergency powers since last May. On March 5, the majorities put forward a Democrat-negotiated bill with the governor’s office intended to remove those powers.
Ortt’s team said, “However, that bill did not go far enough and was not an actual repeal, as has been made clear since its passage. Arbitrary rules, including the curfew on restaurants and bars, remain in effect, further harming our small businesses.
“Under the bill passed by the majorities – and agreed to by the governor’s office – directives already made by the governor remain in effect. He maintains the ability to modify or extend them.”
Earlier this month, the New York State Senate Republican conference announced the introduction of another concurrent resolution (B477) that would rescind Cuomo’s mandate that prohibits bars and restaurants from serving alcoholic beverages to patrons who do not order food. The majority has so far not allowed the resolution to the floor for a vote, despite indicating support for doing so on March 5.
Since the beginning of the 2021-22 legislative session, the GOP has introduced an amendment to fully rescind the governor’s emergency powers 33 times. Each time, Senate Democrats have unanimously voted against the measure.