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COVID-19: NY Must Compromise On Restaurant, Bar Restrictions, Judge Says

Restauranteurs have been told to reach a compromise with the state over occupancy numbers.
Restauranteurs have been told to reach a compromise with the state over occupancy numbers. Photo Credit: Pixabay

With bars and restaurants struggling to contend with restrictions put in place by the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, an upstate New York judge is instructing the state to work with restauranteurs and bar owners to reach a compromise that works for both parties regarding reopening for indoor dining.

Owners of upstate New York restaurants are suing Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the impact on their businesses due to restrictions on indoor dining put in place, have been told by a judge that the state must provide scientific evidence to support the strict COVID-19 restrictions put in place on businesses, according to a report by WKBW-TV in Buffalo.

In total, more than three dozen bar and restaurant owners are actively suing the state in an effort to reopen indoor dining, which is not limited in areas designated as COVID-19 yellow zones, and forbidden in orange, or red hotspots, much to the chagrin of the business owners.

According to data from state health officials, after contact tracing, less than 2 percent of COVID-19 transmissions were linked to bars and restaurants. Some of the restaurants involved in the lawsuit have claimed to have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars since the pandemic began raging in early March.

This week, a State Supreme Court judge in upstate New York said that if there is no compromise between the state and the restaurant owners, it will be up to health officials to provide empirical evidence as to why indoor dining continues to be such a divisive issue, particularly in the orange hotspots.

A pre-trial hearing between state officials and the restaurant owners has been scheduled for Monday, Jan. 4.

In New York City, indoor dining is entirely suspended, while in the rest of the state, there are strict occupancy restrictions and rules put in place to ensure that there is no unnecessary spread of COVID-19.

"Yes, it's an economic hardship, but we have compensated in other ways, and this is a situation that has affected every business community, not just restaurants ... it's every business community and every family and we're doing all we can (to help)," Cuomo previously said. 

"And then you have the particular situation in New York City," Cuomo added. "Which is one of the densest locations in the country with crowding, and you have an increase in the rate of transmission, which has always been one of the seminal factors in this whole conversation." 

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