ALBANY — Following Gov. Andrew Cuomo extending and modifying several existing COVID-19 mandates this week, Sen. George Borrello wants to see the written notification the governor is legally required to provide five days in advance of such actions.
Borrello, the Chautauqua County Republican, condemned the Cuomo's actions, which the senator said were "executed behind the scenes as legislators and the media were focused on the passage of the state budget."
Among the directives extended by Cuomo were those mandating the 11 p.m. restaurant curfew and requiring patrons to purchase food with alcohol. Those rules are extended until May 6.
“Despite the Senate majority’s insistence that they repealed the governor’s emergency powers, his actions this week only reinforce the fact that he is still pulling the strings when it comes to these harmful COVID restrictions on our small business,” Borrello said in a news release. “There was zero transparency by the governor or the legislative majorities concerning (extending the orders), and I expect the convenient excuse will be that everyone was focused on finalizing the budget.”
Borrello said the restrictions on restaurants and bars have devastated New York’s restaurant and hospitality industry. The New York State Restaurant Association reports that, to date, 20% of restaurants in the state have closed and many of them will never reopen.
"The continuation of this directive will cause more pain for these restaurants and the families they support," Borrello said.
The senator said restaurants, bars and hospitality businesses continue to bear the brunt of what he called the arbitrary mandates.
"There isn’t a shred of science supporting the 11 p.m. curfew or the ridiculous requirement that patrons must order food with an alcoholic beverage,” Borrello said. “Many in this industry are understandably feeling unjustly persecuted by these continuing restrictions on their businesses, even as other venues, including gyms, movie theaters and bowling alleys, had their 11 p.m. curfew lifted.”
Borrello said Senate Democrats’ failure to truly repeal Cuomo's emergency powers earlier this year, as well as their rejection of Republican efforts to roll back "each senseless directive," makes them complicit in the damage being wrought on New York businesses.
His request sent to the Senate's majority leader, Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, seeks a copy of the required notification — which lawmakers required in lieu of outright repealing Cuomo's directives — "is an effort to bring the greatest measure of transparency and accountability possible to this flawed process," Borrello said.