Assembly members Michael Reilly (R-South Shore) and Michael Tannousis (R,C,Staten Island/Brooklyn) joined Minority Leader Will Barclay (R,C,I-Pulaski) and members of the Assembly Minority Conference to introduce a joint resolution to overturn Gov. Cuomo’s arbitrary mandates that have unnecessarily hurt restaurants and bars throughout the state.
Minority members in both the Assembly and Senate are calling for the repeal of two of Gov. Cuomo’s Executive Orders: one which forces restaurants to close early, currently 11 p.m., and another which requires customers to purchase food with any order of an alcoholic beverage.
“The Legislature has always had the ability to roll back any of Gov. Cuomo’s questionable Executive Orders, but Majority members have refused to take any steps to do so. It’s time we use some common sense and offer assistance to an industry which suffered so much pain during the pandemic,” said Leader Barclay. “Minority members are offering two measures to overturn Executive Orders that are not rooted in science. They have, though, needlessly damaged struggling small businesses and the state’s economy.”
“For months we were told by Gov. Cuomo that we must follow the science and trust the facts. Now, as we approach the one-year anniversary of when these onerous policies were first implemented, the science is telling us that restaurants and bars are among the lowest contributors to the COVID-19 transmission rate, and the facts are telling us that these policies are destroying our state’s economy by forcing small businesses to shutter permanently,” said Reilly. “I invite my Majority colleagues to follow the science, trust the facts and show they support our small businesses by voting in favor of this resolution.”
“I am proud to sign onto this common-sense resolution to do away with the arbitrary and nonsensical restrictions on our restaurants,” said Tannousis. “COVID-19 does not go to bed at 11 p.m. and chips do not protect anyone from the virus. It is past time we allow our establishments to safely return to normal operation.”
Gov.Cuomo’s own data seemingly contradicts the need for these Executive Orders. COVID-19 transmission was traced back to restaurants and bars, per a presentation from the governor in December, in only 1.43 percent of instances. These improper policies have been challenged in court, and in one case a New York State Supreme Court Judge ruled nearly 100 restaurants in Erie County were being incorrectly restricted. Further, there is no data to support any difference in transmission rates either before or after 11 p.m. Restaurant owners and their counsel have, rightly, argued these policies arbitrarily harm their establishments.
According to the New York State Restaurant Association, approximately one in six restaurants statewide have been forced to close because of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown orders. In New York City, that number is closer to one in three closures and approximately 160,000 people working in the restaurant industry have lost their jobs, according to a state comptroller’s report.
To that end, the Conferences offered concurrent resolutions of the Assembly and Senate terminating the provisions of Executive Order numbers 202.52 and 202.74 issued by the governor pursuant to Section 29-A of the Executive Law.
The Assembly Minority Conference has been critical of watered-down measures taken in recent weeks to address the governor’s executive authority. The bill (A.5967) passed by Majority members in the Assembly removed the original April 30, 2021 expiration date of the governor’s authority and continues to afford the governor enormous executive latitude. The governor is still being permitted to modify or extend the nearly 100 directives he has issued during the past year.