Aside from banning dancing in bars and restaurants in New York, dancing has also been prohibited at wedding receptions. The city's liquor authority continues to declare a "war on fun," enumerating other activities that are now banned during the pandemic, particularly cornhole, darts, exotic dancing, karaoke and pool.
Comedy shows have also been banned in the city to encourage social distancing and prevent the spread of infections.
The ban on various activities aims to reduce the number of people gathering in bars. According to the liquor authority’s guidelines, if customers attempt to visit a bar, they are required to sit at a table and order food along with their drinks.
In July, Cuomo defended the strict food-with-drinks requirement because it can help prevent curbside boozing. He added that the rule has always existed, but as state law.
Cuomo explained that there aren't any bars that exclusively serve alcohol because establishments must offer substantive food like soups and sandwiches, noting that hors d’oeuvres and chicken wings simply won't cut it.
Earlier last month, the State Liquor Authority required bars to sell more “substantial” snacks if they wanted to sell alcoholic beverages. The law Cuomo is referring to, which dates back to 1964, doesn't cover “Cuomo chips” or a $1 bag of potato chips an upstate bar owner was charging on customers’ tabs to comply with the law without being forced to spend more on other dishes.
Dan Palladino, owner of Heritage Hill Brewhouse in Pompey, shared that he's forced to ban people from dancing, following the latest mandate because he doesn't want to risk losing his license.
Aside from being unable to offer indoor dining for an indefinite period, bars and restaurants are also being told to play "incidental music."
Updated guidelines from the New York State Liquor Authority's Frequently Asked Questions page now questions live music in bars and restaurants. According to the new guidelines, music should be incidental and not a concert with paid ticket holders.
Heritage Hill brings in bands to play for customers in outdoor seating on the weekends. Palladino charges a $5 cover that helps him pay the band and to manage the crowd.
By asking people to pay if they want to watch the band, Palladino can easily control the number of customers who turn over tables.
Palladino is at a loss and he wants to know who's coming up with the increasingly restrictive regulations. Even though cases in New York are declining, Palladino is struggling to make ends meet.
Palladino also removed the cornhole games at Heritage Hill early on to prevent people from gathering in certain areas of the brew house. However, he doesn't agree with the rule if customers are playing games outside with their family or friends.
At another establishment called Middle Ages Brewing in Syracuse, owner Isaac Rubenstein hosts live music on weekends on the establishment's loading dock. Rubenstein needs to frequently remind customers not to dance to the music.
Rubenstein admits that the strict rules are unusual, but his customers listen to him. Most of the time. Ironically, Rubenstein has stopped advertising events at Middle Ages Brewing to limit the number of attendees.
Rubenstein also holds concerts early in the afternoon for free, all because he wants to keep the establishment open. At the same time, he wants to help customers stay safe during the pandemic.
Rubenstein acknowledges that while enforcing all these new rules is inconvenient, particularly for customers who simply want to have their fun, they do serve a purpose.
Jonathan Paduano, a DJ who owns Classy Cat Entertainment, shared that the restrictions have cut into his business, particularly since some of the small restaurants where he played music now pre-pandemic only offer take-out.
Paduano also lost out on gigs at dance clubs, which remain closed. However, he found a workaround to keep weddings fun despite the strict social distancing rules.
Paduano designed a bride and groom trivia game that guests can play on their phones. He doesn't mind the "no dancing" rule because there are other ways to entertain clients and their loved ones without dancing at weddings. (Related: Judge: “Cuomo, de Blasio mandate on religious gatherings violated First Amendment”.)
Restaurants in New York City struggle to stay in business with only outdoor patios and takeout service being allowed. Yet on August 19, Wednesday, Cuomo warned that restaurants may need to close in the fall.
While bars and restaurants in other parts of the state have resumed indoor dining services, those in New York are still banned from letting customers dine in various establishments. Instead, they are stuck operating expanded outdoor patios, which Cuomo claims is safer.
Cuomo insists that unlike other surrounding suburbs, NYC has a bigger problem, which is a lack of compliance.
Every region of New York is in the final phase of reopening, but New York City still isn't allowed to reopen various indoor activities because of the pandemic.
Despite the pandemic, Cuomo has already announced guidelines for some indoor businesses that return in the coming weeks with limited capacity, such as gyms and museums. Business owners are left frustrated because he has yet to determine a definite date for when bars and restaurants can resume indoor dining services.
Cuomo warns the public to be twice as careful since flu season is coming up while the pandemic continues to spread across the country.
Instead of determining when restaurants can get a second wind and recover from their financial losses due to the pandemic, New York has suspended the liquor licenses of nearly 150 bars and restaurants for violating Cuomo's orders on operating with safety precautions to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Other restaurants only received citations, but many establishments in New York City are facing enormous fines of at least $10,000 per violation.