Restaurant owners, lawmakers call for push back in-person dining curfew

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo eased some restrictions on COVID-19 hot spots across New York, the curfew requiring restaurants close for in-person dining by 10 p.m. continues. Lawmakers and restaurateurs are trying to get that reversed.
Since Cuomo put a curfew on dine-in services back in November, Greg Bartolotta, owner of Argyle Grill and Tavern in Babylon, says he's had to lay off cooks, bartenders and servers. He says businesses is down up to 40% from last year.
"We lose that last seating. You're talking about 830 people don't want to come in and be rushed out for dining," says Bartolotta. "So I'm really only getting those two early seatings, five and seven, and after that you have to ask everybody to go home."
Bartolotta joined other Suffolk County restaurant owners and area lawmakers to call on the governor to reverse the November order and extend the curfew.
"Make it midnight. They can have another seating that will save jobs," says state Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore). "It will keep our restaurants and taverns open."
Many of the restaurant owners pointed out that they are following all the safety protocols by putting up dividers, having all staff wear masks and gloves, and no one is gathering at the bar. So, they say this is not the place where the virus is being spread.
LIJ Valley Stream Associate Chairperson of the Emergency Department Chidubem Iloabachie says while there is no hard science behind the curfew, he says it is a good move from a public health perspective.
"Anything that we can do to limit gathering, to limit the proximity in which people are spending time with one another is going to be good for reducing the transmissibility of this virus," says Iloabachie.
Meanwhile, some restaurant owners say if something doesn't change soon, they fear many eateries will shut their doors.
"I think basically it's going to be a domino effect," says Conor Hartnett, of Mary Carroll's Pub. "I think there's going be some major carnage."
The governor told reporters Wednesday that while they're looking into the issues, no changes will be made at this time. Cuomo says when you keep restaurants open, there tends to be more crowding. Officials feel it's a common-sense way to prevent infections.