Government overreach has been a hallmark of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s time in office, but his recent dictates surrounding forced-food purchases at bars have crossed a new line. Surely, the governor has more pressing things to address than debate the merits of chicken wings. For example, the state budget was ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, virus-related nursing home deaths remain unanswered, outmigration continues to decimate New York’s population, and small-business owners are reeling from a lack of customers.
In a bizarre attempt to further control every facet of the state, Cuomo recently mandated food must be purchased with all alcohol orders in bars as a means of inhibiting patrons’ movements and limiting socializing for too long. After frustrated bar owners began offering inexpensive, lighter-fare food options, Cuomo rebuffed their workarounds and ordered “substantial” foods be purchased with each alcohol order.
This makes little sense for several reasons. First, if the aim is to keep patrons at their tables to ensure proper social-distancing guidelines are followed, what does it matter what they are eating? What people don’t need is the governor dictating dietary guidelines.
Owning a small business, especially a restaurant or tavern, is challenging enough. On top of that, add the fallout of the pandemic and the state’s already-prohibitive taxes and regulations. Now, in addition to all that, the governor is adding ridiculous guidelines likely to drive even more customers away. Businesses cannot survive in this climate much longer, and the governor’s rulemaking is exacerbating an already bad situation.
We are well past the pandemic’s state of emergency, yet Cuomo refuses to give up his unilateral control. Even worse, his orders are becoming more restrictive and increasingly ridiculous — we’re talking about chicken wings afterall. It is now time for an equal partnership with the state legislature.
William (Will) A. Barclay, Republican, is the New York Assembly Minority Leader and represents the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses most of Oswego County, including the cities of Oswego and Fulton, as well as the town of Lysander in Onondaga County and town of Ellisburg in Jefferson County. Contact Barclay at firstname.lastname@example.org or (315) 598-5185.