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Our attorneys stay on top of changes in legislation, agency regulations, case law, and industry trends—then craft timely legal alerts to keep clients up to date on legal developments important to their business.

March 17, 2021

New York State Further Eases Restrictions on Hospitality and Entertainment Venues

With much anticipation and optimism, New York State continues to significantly ease restrictions on the hospitality and entertainment industry. In that regard, Governor Cuomo announced on Monday, March 15, 2021, that all statewide venues may now host wedding receptions and catered events at up to 50 percent capacity or a maximum of 150 attendees per event, whichever is less—provided that certain safeguards are in place, including that: (a) attendees must have proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test result or proof of COVID-19 immunization prior to the event; (b) attendees must sign in and provide contact information in order to assist with potential contact tracing; (c) venues must notify local health departments of large events at least five days in advance; (d) masks will be required at all times except when seated and eating or drinking; and (e) ceremonial and socially distanced dancing will be allowed in designated areas.

In addition to the above:

  • Effective March 19, 2021, all restaurants outside of New York City can increase indoor dining capacity to 75 percent. All Phase 3 guidelines previously issued by the State in “Food Services Guidelines for Employers and Employees” remain in effect. For example, physical distancing guidelines require all outdoor and indoor tables with seating to be separated by a minimum of six feet in all directions. Wherever distancing between tables is not feasible, physical barriers that are at least five feet in height can be erected between those tables, provided the barriers do not block emergency or fire exits. Regardless of physical distance, employees must wear an acceptable face covering at all times, and the current 11:00 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants remains in effect.

New York State’s eased dining restrictions come on the heels of those in neighboring Connecticut, which will allow 100 percent indoor dining capacity also effective March 19, 2021, and Massachusetts, which currently allows 100 percent indoor dining capacity.

  • Effective March 26, 2021, indoor family entertainment centers and places of amusement can open with a 25 percent capacity limit.
  • Beginning April 9, 2021, outdoor amusement parks can open with a 33 percent capacity limit. All facilities must submit reopening plans with health protocols to the local health department. The NYS Department of Health will issue specific reopening guidance, including details on timing, in the coming weeks.

The State’s easing of restrictions is more welcome news for the hospitality industry and the public, and comes in the wake of the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) that is part of the American Rescue Plan Act President Biden recently signed into law, which we summarized in our March 12, 2021, alert. As restaurant and hospitality employers prepare to take advantage of the benefits offered under the RRF and welcome back more of their employees and customers, they will need to navigate the myriad pandemic-related guidelines and orders issued by local, state, and federal authorities. Members of Barclay Damon’s Hotels, Hospitality, & Food Service Team, its COVID-19 Response Team, and its Labor & Employment Practice Area are here to assist you as we collectively begin our return to a “new normal.”

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Scott Rogoff, Hotels, Hospitality & Food Service Team leader, at srogoff@barclaydamon.com; Brian Culnan, partner, at bculnan@barclaydamon.com; or another member of the firm’s Hotels, Hospitality & Food Service Team.

We also have a specific team of Barclay Damon attorneys who are actively working on assessing regulatory, legislative, and other governmental updates related to COVID-19 and who are prepared to assist clients. Please contact Yvonne Hennessey, COVID-19 Response Team leader, at yhennessey@barclaydamon.com or any member of the COVID-19 Response Team at COVID-19ResponseTeam@barclaydamon.com.

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