(Albany, NY) Today, the Senate suspended several executive orders placed by the Governor at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Included in these repeals are food sales in bars and restaurants will no longer be required with alcoholic beverage purchases, in an effort to increase review and transparency of volunteers assisting in COVID-19 operations the Senate Majority restores provisions of the Public Officers Law for volunteers who receive nominal or no compensation, and to formally eliminate vaccination penalties and priority group regulations that slowed down the vaccination process. The Senate will continue to review existing directives that can be removed as session continues.
The Senate is taking steps to ease COVID-19 restrictions as New York continues recovering and New Yorkers get vaccinated and regain a sense of normalcy as the state reopens. The repeal of these directives will enhance the quality of life for volunteers, patrons, and business owners.
“New Yorkers have stepped up to take the appropriate safety precautions to curb the spread of COVID-19,” Senate Majority Leader and President Pro Tempore Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “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. We ask New Yorkers to continue to heed public health guidance as it relates to mask wearing, observe social distancing precautions and get vaccinated so that we don’t lose ground in our recovery.”
Resolution Sponsor, Senator Michelle Hinchey, said, “Our ability to beat this pandemic, get our Main Streets back in business, and our communities safely back to normal requires us to get shots in arms as effectively as possible. We are in a place right now where the outdated compliance rules and excessive penalties put in place by Executive Order for vaccine suppliers are a hindrance and are actually working to disincentivize distribution, especially in more rural areas. Our small neighborhood pharmacists, and those working creatively to deliver vaccines through pop-ups and door-to-door distribution, should not bear the burden of this outdated and now harmful directive. It’s time to repeal it, and I’m glad to carry the resolution to do just that.”
Resolution Sponsor, Senator John Liu, said, “The public officers law is intended to ensure that state officials bear nothing but the public’s best interest in mind when rendering decisions about public policy and resource allocation, and it should never have been subverted by gubernatorial executive order. Amid reports of political chicanery and other conflicts of interest in vaccine distribution, this legislative resolution cancels the governor’s order that waived ethics and transparency rules, and re-imposes much-needed integrity to the executive branch.”
Resolution Sponsor, Senator John W. Mannion, said, “Central New York’s bars and restaurants are the kind of places where the bartender knows your name, the hostess knows your table, and the waitress remembers your favorite dish. They are treasured gathering spots and part of the fabric of our communities. Witnessing the industry-wide devastation during the pandemic was heartbreaking. Rescinding the food with beverage mandate is the most pressing issue in all of my conversations with owners and managers. I’ve been fighting for this change for months and it’s my honor to sponsor the concurrent resolution that will deliver immediate relief for bars and restaurants across the state. This is not about throwing caution to the wind or rejecting measures to protect public health. It is about striking a balance and commonsense. I extend my deepest thanks and gratitude to Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. She is charting a path forward for the state and is a truly a leader New Yorkers can be proud of.”
The Executive Order Directives suspended include:
- Repeal of Sale of Food with Alcoholic Beverage Requirement: Food sales will no longer be required for alcoholic beverage sales in bars and restaurants, for on premise or off premise consumption.
- Transparency for Individuals Assisting in COVID Operations: Individuals who volunteer to take on significant government work will be treated as Public Officers in order to comply with government disclosure and transparency rules.
- Timely and Accurate Administration of Vaccines: Outdated compliance rules for vaccine suppliers, such as full utilization of vaccines on hand within one week or additional paperwork mandates, will be relaxed. This repeal eliminates unnecessary penalties and prioritization rules that slow down the vaccination process and are no longer necessary in light of current vaccination rates and appointment availability.