MIDNIGHT STRIKES FOR BARS
Judge allows Cuomo to force early last call on watering holes
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.