Cuomo: Bars, restaurants, gyms to close at 10 p.m.; private indoor gatherings capped at 10 people

ALBANY (WCBS 880) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced the state will be enacting new COVID-19 restrictions as cases rise across New York and the nation.

Starting Friday, any establishment with a state liquor license, including bars, restaurants and State Liquor Authority-licensed bowling alleys, must close by 10 p.m., Cuomo announced. Restaurants will be able to operate for curbside food-only pickup after 10 p.m.

All gyms in the state must also close at 10 p.m. daily.

“These measures are appropriate at this point in time in anticipation of what we see as potential spread,” the governor told reporters. “If these measures are not sufficient to slow the spread, we will … turn the valve more, and part of that would be reducing the number of people in indoor dining.”

Cuomo stressed that scientists know indoor gatherings and parties are a major source of COVID spread, so in an effort to slow the spread, New York State will also be limiting indoor gatherings at private residences to just 10 people. The change will also take effect on Friday.

Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, called the move a "huge blow" to the restaurant industry.

"Our members have put in place procedures and protocols to mitigate the spread, and we'll continue to do so to ensure the safety of our employees and patrons," Fleischut said. "We understand the logic behind micro-cluster restrictions, but at this time we have concerns about blanket statewide restrictions like this."

"These new restrictions should be publicly justified with contact tracing data because they will make it even more difficult for these small businesses to survive," Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement. "We demand that our elected leaders provide financial support to our city’s restaurants and bars before they permanently shutter and put tens of thousands of New Yorkers out of work.”

According to the governor, New York is already experiencing the “fall surge” in coronavirus cases.

On Wednesday, he reported there were 4,820 new positive cases of the virus – resulting in a positivity rate of 2.93%. Hospitalizations are also creeping up with 1,628 reported across the state.

“We continue to take strong action to respond to outbreaks and to stop the spread,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter. “Mask Up.”

The state also saw 21 COVID-19 fatalities on Tuesday, bringing the total number of deaths to 33,373, according to the New York Times.

When asked what he would say to bars, restaurant and gym owners who do not wish to comply with the new order, Cuomo responded, “Losing money hurts, but money can be replaced. Losing a loved one hurts forever.”

“It's tough on bars and restaurants, it's tough on gyms, it's tough on everyone. I would say we are within sight of the finish line, the vaccine has been discovered, it has to be perfected, it has to be operationalized, but we see the finish line,” Cuomo added.

The governor also announced that some parts of Staten Island will be labeled a yellow coronavirus zone as the number of cases continue to rise in the borough. He notes that the rise in cases could be attributed to the fact that Staten Islanders tend to travel back and forth to New Jersey, which is also experiencing a surge in cases.

Catholic schools in the borough have gone all remote.

Cuomo reminded everyone that local governments are in charge of enforcement, and for the spread to slow, local governments need to be vigilant in enforcing the rules.

“You can make rules, rules are only as good as enforcement, period,” Cuomo said. “I need the local governments to enforce. We went through this with bars and restaurants once before, there was widespread lack of compliance.”

The State Liquor Authority will continue to inspect bars and restaurants across the state to ensure they are complying with COVID-19 guidelines.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images