Bar, restaurant owners say little will change on May 19 if social distancing requirement not dropped

There’s one major issue with the reopening guidance that Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced with state leaders from New Jersey and Connecticut.

While Cuomo celebrated the capacity restrictions that will be lifted on May 19, he maintained that social distancing requirements would still be maintained.

For some business owners, this means little change will actually come of the capacity modifications.

“It’s an illusion,” one business owner said speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Then there’s the enforcement component, which no one has ever had any firm grasp of. You’ll have some businesses comply with the new rules- then others that take this change as affirmation to fully-reopen per pre-COVID times.”

In particular, bars and restaurant owners have been left scratching their heads. “Maintaining social distance means that we pretty much have to stay where we are with capacity. We’ve all maxed out space, because many restaurants, bars, or other entertainment venues only hold a select number of people.”

For example, the state’s current guidance is that restaurants and bars can go up to 75%. But if a venue has a maximum occupancy of 100 people- it’s unlikely that they have the space to accommodate 75-100 people. Instead, they probably have 40-60 seats available, because social distancing has been a requirement throughout.

“Largely ceremonial,” that business owner told “The state will issue confusing, complicated guidance, but it won’t make it any easier for the businesses actually trying to survive or get by. The Governor can say New York is reopening, but if this is his definition of it, then we are looking at a bleak future for small business owners.”

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