With more people getting vaccinated every day, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the curfew on bars and restaurants to midnight on April 14. Furthermore, on May 17, the midnight curfew for outdoor areas will be lifted and on May 31, the curfew for indoor areas will be lifted as well.
Bars and restaurants have been functioning under a curfew since Nov. 14, 2020, when Cuomo originally restricted closing times to 10 p.m. Cuomo’s November announcement cited alcohol-serving establishments as one of the largest areas of COVID-19 spread.
According to Marie McKenna, co-owner of the Lost Dog Cafe & Lounge, her restaurant has been adapting to new state regulations since the beginning of the pandemic.
“When the pandemic first arrived last March, and we were told to shut down, we have gone through so many changes trying to adapt to new information about how the virus spreads and how we can keep our staff and the public safe,” McKenna wrote in an email. “Believe me, it has been one of those surreal moments as a business owner that we never anticipated in the 27 years of owning a restaurant. It has been incredibly challenging.”
Jordan Rindgen, managing partner at the restaurants The Colonial, The Stone Fox and Dos Rios Cantina, said his restaurants have also faced major adjustments this past year, and he remains focused on employing more people as the curfew continues to get extended.
“The last year was certainly filled with impact, fortunately we were very proactive when it came to adaptation,” Rindgen wrote in an email. “We found that as long as we were allowed to keep our doors open we could maneuver just about anything.”
While Lost Dog Cafe & Lounge has not yet extended their hours, McKenna said they were eager to do so.
“We can’t wait to be open until midnight soon,” McKenna wrote. “We are sympathetic to the frustrations of our fellow bar owners. It’s a delicate dance between making sure the public and staff are safe with the need for a business to make money and be profitable.”
In response to this extension, Binghamton Mayor Rich David called New York state’s curfew on bars and restaurants “unfortunate and unnecessary.”
“With curfew restrictions lifted on casinos, movie theaters and bowling alleys, it’s only fair that restaurants and taverns are treated the same way,” David said. “Binghamton’s local establishments have worked hard to protect their customers and meet all [COVID-19] health and safety guidelines. With vaccination numbers improving and more establishments taking advantage of outdoor seating this spring, the state should provide whatever support it can for our small businesses that have been severely impacted this last year.”
James Cutrone, a sophomore double-majoring in Italian and linguistics, expressed support for the curfew adjustment, viewing it as a stride toward further change.
“Overall, I think that the curfew reduction is a necessary step to return to the way things were before COVID-19, even if such a return to normalcy requires only hourly reductions of said curfew,” Cutrone wrote in an email.
Throughout this past year, Rindgen described the local community as playing an instrumental role by continuing to support local restaurants.
“The amount of support from our community is the reason all three of our businesses are still open,” Rindgen wrote. “Our loyal guests supported us throughout.”
Ronit Chhabra, a sophomore majoring in business administration, viewed student support of local businesses amid financial uncertainty as a mutually beneficial effort.
“With many of us BU students discontent with the current state of the dining hall food, we are often looking for better alternatives for our meals,” Chhabra wrote in an email. “As such, eating at or from local restaurants could serve as a welcome solution for both us BU students, with our overall dissatisfaction with dining hall food during the pandemic, and local businesses, many of which are experiencing financial struggles.”
McKenna expressed her optimism for the future, believing more change would soon follow this curfew extension.
“I think we are getting very close to reaching goals as far as making sure people are vaccinated and anticipate that most of these restrictions will lift in the not-too-distant future,” McKenna wrote. “We will remain patient — we are in the people business and public health is the most important factor to us.”