Judge al­lows Cuomo to force early last call on wa­ter­ing holes

New York Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - BY NOAH GOLD­BERG

Bar own­ers took an­other shot on Fri­day when the courts ruled that Gov. Cuomo’s or­der that they close by mid­night is le­gal.

Gov. Cuomo has wide author­ity to im­pose COVID-19 re­stric­tions on busi­nesses — even if the harsh rules turn New York into a “very dif­fer­ent, even deso­late, place,” a Brook­lyn fed­eral judge ruled Fri­day.

The Gra­ham, a bar in Brook­lyn, sued the gov­er­nor last month over his or­der that bars close by mid­night, ar­gu­ing that the virus “does not be­have as a vam­pire” and say­ing the re­stric­tion would only hurt its strug­gling busi­ness.

But Judge Brian Co­gan said it was up to Cuomo (photo), not the courts, to bal­ance eco­nomic con­cerns with pub­lic health.

“Pro­long­ing the re­stric­tions on busi­nesses and restau­rants will make eco­nomic re­cov­ery more dif­fi­cult. In­deed, it may be that con­tin­u­ing re­stric­tions on busi­ness will turn New York City into a very dif­fer­ent, even deso­late, place,” Co­gan wrote Fri­day in fa­vor of the gov­er­nor.

“But where good faith ar­gu­ments can be made on both sides of the many is­sues raised by the pan­demic, it is up to the Gov­er­nor, not the courts, to bal­ance the com­pet­ing pub­lic health and busi­ness in­ter­ests.”

The “mid­night rule” was part of the state’s Sept. 30 re­turn to in­door din­ing, al­low­ing bars and restau­rants to op­er­ate at 25% ca­pac­ity and or­der­ing them to close by mid­night.

The self-pro­claimed “Bush-burg” bar — be­tween Bush­wick and Wil­liams­burg — noted that much of its in­come came from post-mid­night sales, and the shut­down would put it out of busi­ness.

A lawyer for The Gra­ham ar­gued af­ter Fri­day’s rul­ing that “no other state or city in the coun­try is do­ing” the mid­night shut­down.

“We just filed a no­tice of ap­peal a few days ago. The judge al­lowed the gov­ern­ment to get away with say­ing we think that this might be help­ful ... even though they had no data to sup­port it,” said at­tor­ney Jonathan Cor­bett.

“We think that doesn’t meet the min­i­mum stan­dard that the Con­sti­tu­tion re­quires.”

A Cuomo spokesman ap­plauded the court rec­og­niz­ing “the state’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect pub­lic health.

“We un­der­stand that not ev­ery­one likes the rules, but we are still in a global pan­demic and bet­ter to be un­happy than sick or worse,” said spokesman Jack Sterne.

The Gra­ham in Brook­lyn sued the gov­er­nor for forc­ing bars to close at mid­night, but lost in court.

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