The Governor has now issued the executive order that he announced yesterday, imposing new restrictions on alcohol sales
The Governor has now issued the executive order
that he announced yesterday, imposing new restrictions on alcohol sales. The State Liquor Authority has also issued new guidance
, interpreting the executive order.
Broadly speaking, the new restrictions require that customers purchase food with alcohol. Specifically, the new executive order and SLA guidance have the following requirements:
- Customers consuming alcohol on-premises (i.e., in approved outdoor seating areas until indoor dining returns in NYC) must purchase a food item with their first alcohol order.
- Each customer must purchase their own food item with their first alcohol order. However, a group of customers can share a food item if it provides enough food for the people sharing it.
- A "food item" means, at minimum, sandwiches, soups, salads, or substantial appetizers such as nachos or wings. Potato chips, popcorn, or similar snack items are not enough.
- The guidance only refers to food with the first alcohol order, and does not require customers to purchase food with any subsequent alcohol orders.
The guidance also slightly modifies the alcohol to-go rules:
- Going forward, beer and cider sold to-go must be sold with a food item. As the Alliance has previously advised, under the original to-go rules, beer and cider to-go did not need to be sold with a food item. That is no longer the case.
- With that said, alcohol to-go is not otherwise impacted by the new executive order or SLA guidance.
We understand that there will undoubtedly be questions about how this guidance applies in specific scenarios. SLA will soon be posting a FAQs section about this guidance, as they have done in the past with other COVID-related guidance.
According to the SLA guidance, the goal of these new restrictions is to limit the "congregating and mingling that arise in a bar service/drinking only environment." We recognize the importance of compliance related to public health, but these executive orders are counterproductive and problematic as we explained in yesterday's alert
, especially when we are so willing and interested in working collaboratively to keep people safe while supporting small businesses that are trying to survive. This Order is very problematic and unfair for the industry and even scarier for bars that offer a limited food menu and whose customers patronize their place primarily to have a drink, not a meal - it can shutter them. When business owners make the difficult and precise calculations about reopening, rehiring staff, ordering food, and ordering alcohol, they have the right to expect that liquor laws that bars and restaurants have relied on for almost ninety years will not be rolled back overnight. We hope to work with the Cuomo Administration cooperatively and proactively to modify this Order and address issues that may arise.