On Thursday of this week, Governor Cuomo announced stricter rules regarding outdoor dining and drinking in New York.
It comes after thousands of reported complaints of social distancing violations, and photo and video evidence from downstate New York making their way to the Governor’s office.
The first big change is that patrons cannot sit down for only drinks during outdoor dining—they must purchase food, and a snack like chips or pretzels would not quality, they would have to get an actual meal. That seems to mean that outdoor dining doesn’t really qualify for bars, only restaurants, unless they can start producing substantial food (Cuomo himself stated “We said outdoor dining, we didn’t say outdoor bars”).
“If you’re not eating a meal and you’re just drinking, then it’s just an outdoor bar and people are mingling and they’re not isolated and individual tables, and that’s what we’re seeing,” he said, according to the New York Times.
Still, Governor Cuomo’s Senior Advisor Rich Azzopardi confirmed that to-go cocktails are still allowed, as long as they are purchased with food, which was always the rule.
Second, he announced that businesses would be shut down after only three violations, and could get their liquor license rescinded. It’s quite different from the recent White Horse Tavern that was shut down by the State Liquor Authority after a whopping 30 violations.
Before NYC even entered Phase 2, which included outdoor dining, streets were already seen filled with New Yorkers crowded around bar-heavy neighborhoods.
The new rules officially go into effect today, Friday, July 17.