New York|No more ‘Cuomo chips.’ New York’s legislature will suspend a rule that required food to be ordered with alcohol.
The leaders of the New York State Legislature said Tuesday they would move on the next day to suspend a coronavirus directive that required customers to order food when purchasing alcohol at bars and restaurants.
The food directive was originally imposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in July 2020 in an attempt to keep patrons seated at tables and reduce mingling that could lead to large crowded gatherings, fueling the spread of the virus. The repeal of the rule would go into effect after passing both legislative chambers in Albany, which could happen this week.
The rule had been criticized by many, including the restaurant industry and many Republican lawmakers, as arbitrary and an unfair business regulation economically detrimental to bars that weren’t accustomed to serving food.
While some bars and restaurants had begun to eschew the directive in recent months, others came up with creative workarounds to comply with the rule, providing the bare minimum and cheapest option that would count as “food” under the governor’s directive.
For months, New Yorkers were compelled to pair their beer or cocktail order with microwaveable hot dogs, barely cooked grilled cheeses, hastily-prepared peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and, of course, “Cuomo chips.”
On Tuesday, many on social media were in a jocular and nostalgic mood as they bade farewell to the restriction and the eclectic food items they had been forced to order to enjoy an alcoholic drink over the past nine months.
“Rest in peace to the Cuomoritos (a $1 bag of Doritos) the place near us has been selling,” wrote one person.
Another user wrote: “I’m gonna miss you, random bag of lays chips.”
The announcement was the latest in a series of restrictions that officials have eased as more people in the state are vaccinated and government officials increasingly turn their attention to New York’s economic recovery.
Last month, Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, expanded indoor dining capacity for New York City restaurants to 50 percent, up from 35 percent. And earlier this month, he extended the curfew for bars and restaurants from 11 p.m. to 12 a.m.
The restaurant industry welcomed the announcement, while calling for other restrictions to also be lifted.
“The public health justification for the food rule was always questionable, so this is good news because it is past time to repeal it,” said Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, an industry group. “But the state also needs to repeal the rule prohibiting customers from sitting at a bar in New York City, which doesn’t make sense when you can sit at a table six feet away, and they should modify the midnight curfew.”
The move by the legislature comes a few months after it curtailed Mr. Cuomo’s emergency powers, a sharp rebuke to the governor that gave lawmakers additional oversight over the pandemic response.
Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Mr. Cuomo, said on Tuesday that, given the state’s coronavirus data, “lifting this Covid-related restriction was something we were in the process of implementing in the coming days.”