Bar, Restaurant Owners Want Midnight Curfew Lifted

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SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has extended the curfew for bars and restaurants from 11 p.m. to midnight. While business owners welcome the change, some say it’s still not enough.

Jon Page opened the vintage arcade bar Three Lives in downtown Syracuse’s Armory Square, in the summer of 2020.

“I’m a musician so I have impeccable timing with things,” Page said. “It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s not impossible.”

The Three Lives bar in downtown Syracuse. TOM MAGNARELLI / WRVO PUBLIC MEDIA

Going from 11 p.m. to midnight he said, is great. But with the COVID transmission rate at under 1.5% for bars and restaurants, he thinks the curfew should be eliminated altogether.

“When you restrict the curfew like that, people end up going out to the places that don’t have regulations,” Page said. “It’s actually safer to go downtown because the transmission rate would be low.”

That sentiment is shared by Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay.

“Over and over, we’ve heard that we’re supposed to be following the facts and science,” Barclay said. “But as weeks turn into months, and months have now turned into over a year, we watched this administration change the rules without regard to either.”

Barclay said Cuomo needs to explain why he’s keeping the curfew. Thousands of bars and restaurants in the state have closed during the pandemic. A few bar and restaurant owners took part in a virtual press conference with Barclay last week. Some were emotional and angry talking about the economic toll the restrictions have taken on their businesses. Their message is the state should lift the curfew.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said he would get rid of it, if he could. Bars in the county usually close at 2 a.m. McMahon said at this point, some of the regulations are arbitrary and he’s calling for more local control.

Governor Cuomo said as the COVID infection rate goes down, more regulations will be relaxed.

“I understand everybody wants to get back to normal. I get it,” Cuomo said. “Nobody wants to get back to normal more than I do. But we’re not back to normal.”

Cuomo did end the curfew for pool halls, bowling alleys, casinos and fitness centers.

Nearly 30% of New Yorkers are fully vaccinated and COVID is on the decline. But the state averages about 6,000 new cases each day and Onondaga County has about 100 new cases a day.