Andrew Cuomo reverses Covid rule BANNING outdoor diners from using inside bathrooms in New York

Andrew Cuomo reverses Covid rule BANNING outdoor diners from using inside bathrooms in New York

December 19, 2020

GOVERNOR Cuomo reversed course Friday after receiving backlash from New Yorkers for trying to institute new outdoor dining laws that prevented customers from accessing the restaurant bathroom.

Vocal New Yorkers voiced their opinions on how absurd new guidelines released by New York City and State would prohibit outdoor restaurant diners from entering a premise to use the restroom or pick up pre-ordered food.

"This is absurd and must be fixed ASAP," said Andrew Rigie, head of the NYC Hospitality Alliance.

"The new guidance issued by NYS and shared by NYC on the indoor dining shutdown is another example of why restaurants and bars feel like the government is purposely kicking them in the gut and then stopping on their hand when they’re already down."

The dining update says "customers may not pick up food inside the establishment," which is open to "only verifiable employees" working inside the premises.

As a result, "customers may not enter the inside of the establishment for any reason," including for the bathoom.

The guidelines did add more to the undefined ways of operating outdoor structures for city restaurants – like qualifying an outdoor space as having "at least two open sides for airflow."

This point has been lauded by city residents who have pointed out outdoor dining areas – which are meant to be al fresco to prevent the spread of the coronavirus – seem to resemble more permanent, indoor areas.

"Sides are not considered “open” if covered in clear plastic or other material restricting air flow," the guidelines continued.

Indoor dining has been paused in the city as coronavirus cases jump during the holiday season. Only takeout and outdoor dining are allowed in the city, while indoor dining will be limited in other parts of the state.

After the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) put forward the guidelines, politicians and residents alike took to social media to call on an explanation as to why bathrooms are not to be used by customers.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's press office distanced the city from the guidelines enforced by the state, and said they would be reaching out to the governor's office for clarification on the bathroom rule.

By noon the next day, Cuomo reversed course and said "there was never the intention of the state regulation to tell diners that they can’t use the bathroom."

The SLA then issued a clarification on the rule, explaining why it had chosen a poorly worded guideline for entering premises.

"The SLA had previously done a FAQ when we instated the 10 p.m. curfew, so what happened was when they did the indoor dining restriction in New York City they used some of the same language from that, and in that language it said no one is allowed inside," aide Melissa De Rosa said.

"We thought it was common sense that when you said no one is allowed inside, that's for dining purposes and not for purposes of the bathroom," she continued. "The city issued what they issued yesterday without consulting us or asking for clarification."

Doubling down, SLA chairman Vincent Bradley said "This is common sense: of course outdoor dining patrons can use a restaurant’s bathroom as long as they wear a face covering. That always has been and will continue to be allowed."

"Our goal here is simple: allowing restaurants and bars to continue operating in a safe manner that protects public health, and we will continue to support the industry through these trying times while keeping New Yorkers safe."

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