In response to Gov. Cuomo's recent mandate that people sitting outside a bar also need to be ordering a "substantive" amount of food from the establishment, Abby Ehmann, owner of Lucky on Avenue B, launched a petition to amend the executive order.
On June 22, outdoor dining returned to NYC. At the time, Cuomo did not specify that only restaurants could provide the service. Bars, who previously were selling drinks to go, could now set up tables provided they also continue to serve snacks.
However, with some bars — notably White Horse Tavern — not adhering to any kind of social distancing, Cuomo said on July 23 that to stay open, establishments needed to offer more than chips and pretzels.
"To be a bar, you had to have food available — soups, sandwiches, etc.," he said in a press conference. "More than just hors d'oeuvres, chicken wings, you had to have some substantive food."
Now bars, already under a financial strain and working with skeleton crews, need to create a menu and whip up a kitchen or be forced to close — even if they never served food before the COVID-19 PAUSE.
"The ever-changing rules and lack of clarity are creating enormous challenges and concerns for small business owners who are in a crisis," Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, told The Daily Mail last week.
To the petition:
The resulting mandate not only puts an onerous burden on bar owners, it has no bearing on safety or health. All super-spreader events have been about ventilation — or the lack thereof — and proximity, not what the people were ingesting.
Rather than legislating what customers must order, I believe it would be safer and smarter to require customers be seated while consuming whatever they want. If no standing is allowed, the possibility of overcrowding is eliminated.
New York is fortunate that our capable leadership has managed to flatten the curve and make us among the top states in the nation in virus containment. Restaurant and bar owners celebrate that success and want to help ensure that our numbers remain low. We are aggressively invested in keeping our customers healthy.
If we, as business owners, are able to maintain social distancing, with tables six feet apart, and require that all our customers be seated, we can easily help contain the spread of the virus. SEATING NOT EATING is a far more elegant solution. It also does not require additional staffing or other expenditures that place an additional burden on an industry that is already suffering severe financial hardship. What people consume on our premises isn’t the problem. HOW they are consuming does, and I believe they should be seated.
You can find the petition at this link.