News & Politics

NY Bars and Restaurants Win Court Victory Against Cuomo's COVID Curfew

Kevin P. Coughlin/ Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via AP

Late last year, blue state governors began enforcing an utterly nonsensical policy ostensibly to fight COVID-19. Govs. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) insisted on curfews for bars and restaurants, preventing them from staying open for lucrative late-shifts without explaining how this business-throttling move would fight the pandemic.

On Saturday, a New York State Supreme Court justice granted a preliminary injunction allowing 90 bars and restaurants to remain open until their regular closing time of 4 a.m. Cuomo had ordered a 10 p.m. curfew in November. Last month, he extended the curfew to 11 p.m. The bars and restaurants sued, demanding the scientific data upon which Cuomo based the curfew.

Steve Cohen, the HoganWilling PLLC attorney representing the bars and restaurants, argued that science did not support the curfew. Cohen said his firm has 13 lawsuits already and is welcoming more industries to come on board.

Donald Swartz, owner of Veneto Wood Fired Pizza and Pasta in Rochester, N.Y., told Fox & Friends that the legal effort began with 10 different restaurants, mostly in the Buffalo area, but grew to nearly 100 different small business owners.

“Months ago we were being redlined where the city of Rochester could not serve indoor dining, but you can go over to the suburbs and you can sit down so it was quite difficult to operate under those conditions,” Swartz recalled. “The law office went to battle for us and got that removed.”

The business owner said he is “really hoping that everybody can get back to — as close as we can — to full dining and we can get our employees — get our staff — back to work. That’s really what we want to do.”

“Let us do what we do best, get back to work, provide a service, provide jobs and provide some taxes back to the state, which [has] got to be much needed at this point,” Swartz added.

While the legacy media long celebrated Cuomo as a heroic warrior against COVID-19, a long train of recent scandals involving the governor’s nursing home orders and sexual assault allegations have eviscerated his political future.

The very idea of a curfew to fight COVID-19 never made much sense. The virus does not suddenly become more likely to spread after 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., but limiting the hours of restaurants and bars does severely cut into their revenues. Cuomo, in particular, appeared to target small businesses that dared to mock his lockdown restrictions with satirical menus. While this petty vindictiveness should be beneath the dignity of a governor, fellow Democrats and alleged victims of sexual assault have come forward with claims that Cuomo personally threatened them, suggesting that this vindictiveness is not outside of the governor’s character.

Yes, this is the same Andrew Cuomo who won an Emmy and who penned a book about his exploits in fighting COVID-19.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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