Cuomo holds firm on curfew for bars, restaurants; announces plan to vaccinate people with comorbidities

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday held firm on the state’s 10 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants as the state confirmed 15 additional cases of the UK COVID-19 variant.

During his virtual press conference, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell asked the governor if he would consider extending the 10 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants to allow patrons to finish watching the football game during Super Bowl Sunday.

The governor said that he understands the concerns of restaurants across the state but, held firm in that all bars and restaurants must close at 10 p.m. on Sunday, regardless of the popular TV event.

“The curfew, like everything else this past year, is complicated. In this state we don’t have different licenses for restaurants and bars,” Cuomo explained. “If we could separate the two, then you could argue for different times at a restaurant and a bar.”

Cuomo says the curfew is to prevent people from lingering in an establishment to socialize and drink.

“You can’t drink and wear a mask,” Cuomo said, which is crucial to prevent the spread of COVID-19 indoors.

However, shortly after his press conference, a state judge lifted the curfew for 91 establishments in Erie and Monroe counties, according to a Times Herald-Record report.

The counties filed a lawsuit to lift the curfew last week and on Friday, a judge ruled the time constraints were unconstitutional. A temporary restraining order has been issues to lift the curfew while the court case proceeds, but only for the establishments named as plaintiffs in the suit.

New York City bars and restaurants, which are not allowed to reopen until Valentine’s Day, are also not permitted to open early for Super Bowl Sunday.

Though, Gov. Cuomo said he could be open to allowing the establishments to open several days before Valentine’s Day, noting that he would discuss the idea on Monday.

The decision on restaurants came as the state confirmed an additional 15 new cases of the UK COVID-19 variant, bringing the statewide total to 59 cases.

“The UK strain is reportedly up to 70% more transmittable, that is a frightening thought,” Cuomo said.

He notes that the state is seeing a significant decline in the COVID-19 cases as vaccinations are also increasing, but stressed “a variant could change it.”

“We’re aware of new possible threats in the future,” Cuomo said. “If these threats actualize, we will respond accordingly.”

As he has in the past, Cuomo noted that the best weapon in the fight against COVID spread is the vaccines.

The governor says the state has maintained a priority focus on hospital workers to get the vaccine and as of Friday, New York has reached an average 75% vaccination rate in hospitals.

He says now that that has been achieved, the state will shift focus on Feb. 15 and will begin to reallocate unused doses in state hospitals to inoculate people with comorbidities, who have made up the majority of COVID-19 deaths in New York.

“You do every group in this state when you do people with comorbidities,” Cuomo said. “If you are a carpenter with a comorbidity, if you are a teacher with a comorbidity, if you are a homemaker with a comorbidity, if you’re a lawyer with a comorbidity – whoever you are – 94% of the deaths are people with comorbidities.”

Cuomo says the state will likely abide by guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine what qualifies someone as having a comorbidity.

The list includes:

— Cancer
— Chronic kidney disease
— Pulmonary Disease, including but not limited to, COPD and asthma
— Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, including Down Syndrome
— Heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
— Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
— Severe Obesity (BMI greater than 40)
— Pregnancy
— Sickle cell disease or Thalassemia
— Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
— Cerebrovascular disease
— Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
— Liver Disease

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