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ALBANY — No more “Cuomo Chips” for you!
The Democrat-led state Legislature voted Wednesday to remove Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pandemic-era rule requiring that food be purchased with all booze sales at bars and restaurants.
The concurrent resolution passed both chambers unanimously with bipartisan support — the state Senate approving the measure 61-0, followed by the state Assembly’s 149-0 approval.
“The purchase of food with alcohol [is] arbitrary and not based on science,” state Sen. John Mannion (D-Syracuse) said during the chamber debate.
“I’ve yet to find any scientific literature that finds a correlation between ordering food with your drink, and stopping the spread of COVID-19.”
Cuomo imposed the food-with-drinks executive order last summer, arguing that the requirement would help fend off rowdy drinking crowds that could lead to the spread of COVID-19.
Critics have argued the rule was arbitrary and discouraged patrons from frequenting eateries, furthering economic hardships imposed on the industry by the pandemic.
It even prompted dining establishments to sell cheeky, cheaper options — like $1 “Cuomo Chips” sold by a Saratoga eatery — until Cuomo cracked down on his own rule, requiring the sale of “substantial” food items.
But Republican lawmakers also slammed Democrats on Wednesday, arguing they dragged their feet on repealing the Cuomo restrictions.
State Sen. George Borello (R-Jamestown) — the owner of Villagio Italiano and Cabana Sam’s Sunset Bay Grill outside Buffalo — noted Democrats should have removed the petty rule immediately after trimming Cuomo’s emergency pandemic powers in early March.
“While the pandemic was certainly not a crisis that we created, the economic crisis was absolutely manmade by one man, enabled by this body and by the Assembly,” he seethed during the state Senate discussion.
“So here we are 54 days after we were told the governor’s powers were rescinded. Fifty-four days after people on both sides of the aisle stood on this floor and said that this particular executive order requiring food be purchased with alcohol was unscientific, and very damaging. We waited 54 more days to do something about it.”
The Legislature also overturned two additional executive orders including the removal of a rule granting “volunteer” status to individuals who take on significant government responsibilities, making them subject to the state’s disclosure and transparency requirements.
The other order repealed eliminates “unnecessary” penalties and priority rules for coronavirus vaccine administration.
Democrats also vowed they will likely remove additional pandemic orders in the near future.
“New Yorkers have stepped up to take the appropriate safety precautions to curb the spread of COVID-19,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Westchester) said in a statement.
“As more New Yorkers continue to get vaccinated, and our infection rates continue to decline, it is time to begin removing certain restrictions and regulations that are no longer necessary, so we can safely reopen and rebuild our state’s economy.”
The state also announced earlier that the statewide curfew on dining establishments will be lifted next month.
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