Stupid reverse bathroom ban, but state keeps stabbing New York restaurants (opinion)
STATEN ISLAND, NY – This was arguably the dumbest restriction imposed by the state or city during the entire coronavirus pandemic.
And that means something.
The State Liquor Authority released new guidelines for outdoor dining in New York City on Thursday evening.
I’ll skip straight to the silly part: ALS has said that people eating out will no longer be allowed to use restaurant bathrooms.
You heard that right. You eat outside, you drink a few glasses. You have to use the toilet. Sorry. Hold it until you get home. Or maybe bring an empty bottle with you.
As if the neighborhoods around restaurants and bars didn’t have enough issues with patrons relieving themselves in the bushes and behind the dumpsters.
The restriction was intended to ensure that no one has the opportunity to linger indoors for a period of time in a restaurant or bar.
Take that, speakeasy culture!
The SLA quickly reversed in the face of an immediate and passionate flashback to the ridiculousness of restriction.
What a relief, right?
Even Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday called the SLA ban “stupid” and “wrong.”
What about Governor Andrew Cuomo, the executive that oversees the SLA?
The governor said on Friday he did not know the details of the restroom restriction, but said the state never intended to tell diners they couldn’t use the restroom.
Amazing to hear that the SLA has become a thug on the notoriously practical Cuomo, but there you go.
But that’s not the only new restriction imposed by the SLA.
While the indoor eating ban continues, customers are prohibited from entering SLA licensed premises.
All take out orders must be delivered curbside or through a service window. New Yorkers will no longer be allowed to enter a restaurant to pick up an order. Take-out orders must be placed remotely, for example by phone or internet.
Additionally, any outdoor dining room structure should now have at least two open sides, in order to allow air circulation. The sides covered with plastic are not considered open and are not permitted under the new restriction.
So say goodbye to those inventive exterior / interior structures that have appeared. And those trendy igloos might not be up to the job, either.
In addition, restaurateurs and staff can no longer drink alcohol on site. They cannot eat or drink in the premises used by the public. They cannot eat or drink socially with each other, including group meals.
New York restaurants don’t need more restrictions. They are barely hanging on amid the new indoor dining ban.
Once again, restaurants in New York are the target.
We were the last region allowed to resume eating indoors earlier this year. When the rest of the state was eating indoors at 50 percent capacity, we were only allowed 25 percent.
And while indoor dining is allowed in the rest of the state right now, it’s not allowed in New York City.
What’s the end of the game here? If you are a restaurateur, it seems clear: to drive me out of business.
Cuomo was appalled by the protests we saw at Mac’s Public House in Grant City. And no one can support the fact that a sheriff’s deputy was hit by a vehicle while doing law enforcement at the restaurant.
But the point that Mac owners and supporters have made, that the city’s restaurant restrictions make no sense and are enforced arbitrarily, is beyond dispute.
Cuomo himself said last week that restaurants and bars were only responsible for 1.4% of infections seen in recent months.
So why more restrictions?
If Cuomo is concerned about the restaurant protests, he better prepare for more of them.