NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — While New York has been on pause, the state liquor laws have been temporarily changed, allowing restaurants and bars to sell booze for takeout and delivery.
Now there’s a new push to keep those changes even after the coronavirus pandemic ends, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported Monday.
It’s always 5 o’clock somewhere on the Upper East Side.
“Sangria, margaritas, we have a special bourbon cocktail,” said Sammy Musovit, owner of Sojourn.
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Musovit didn’t know how he was going to pay his staff at his place on East 79th Street when restaurants had to close their dining rooms in March due the pandemic. But since the state Liquor Authority began allowing bars and restaurants to sell cocktails to-go, business is looking up.
“Breaking even, maybe turning a little bit of a profit here,” Musovit said.
He said he’s selling three times more drinks than food right now.
“We need to do everything we can to allow small businesses like restaurants and bars to survive and thrive after the pandemic is declared over,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman said.
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Hoylman is sponsoring a bill to extend the temporary provision allowing carry-out alcohol for two years after the pandemic ends.
“I view this legislation as a lifeline,” Hoylman said. “To help these small businesses get back up on their feet to make a profit and employing people and contributing to our neighborhoods.”
“I think it’s a great idea. That way they can maintain at least some of their customer base,” Upper East Side resident Eric Fitzpatrick said.
The loosened rules do not change open container laws, but some watering holes have come under fire for attracting curbside crowds in violation of social distancing.
“The thing that bothers me is if they’re not wearing masks. Otherwise, if they want to have alcohol, fine,” resident Elizabeth Stone said.
Restaurants are in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan. New York City isn’t expected to start Phase 1 of reopening until at least next month.
“Restaurants are gonna face unique challenges because of the rules for distancing,” Hoylman said.
Even when dining rooms can reopen, they likely won’t be allowed a full house.
“The way my place is situated, I can literally only use 25% of my restaurant,” Musovit said. “It would be a tremendous help if they pass this bill.”
Hoylman said he expects his bill to be up for consideration later this session.