EDITORIAL: Cuomo bar food rule goes too far

People can only take so much control
Gov Andrew Cuomo
Gov Andrew Cuomo

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

If you’re in charge and you want people to cooperate with you, you have to know when to push hard and when to let up.

Sometimes, you can go too far in setting rules, and in doing so undermine your own efforts.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo did that earlier this week with a new covid initiative.

It wasn’t a big thing by itself, really.

But it was just the kind of action that can prompt citizens who are already on edge to rebel against all his edicts. 

Among the new regulations Cuomo announced Thursday were that in order for pubs and restaurants to serve alcohol to people who walk up to bars, the customer also has to purchase food.

The rationalization is that too many establishments were allowing too many customers to buy alcohol without socially distancing, and that patrons were not consuming their drinks at individual tables, separate from one another.

The regulation might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

New Yorkers have been under covid law for several months, being forced to comply with a mountain of rules and inconveniences.

Now, if you want to sidle up to a bar for a beer, you also have to buy food?

To judge public reaction to the rule, just look how people and businesses have been mocking it.

One Saratoga Springs pub is offering  customers a bag of “Cuomo Chips” for $1 in a gesture of opposition and to help their customers get around the new regulation without having to buy a meal.

Customers said they saw the new regulation as an infringement on their rights. 

Imagine, for months we haven’t been able to leave our houses or go to work or see our elderly relatives, but having to buy onion rings with a beer is what pushes people over the edge.

If the problem is bars allowing too many people to congregate too close together, the state already can lift the business’s liquor license. In New York City, bars can be shut down after three violations. The has plenty of enforcement power.  Use that instead.

Early in the crisis, the governor got heat when he threatened to send in the National Guard to confiscate medical supplies from upstate hospitals that didn’t volunteer to share equipment with overwhelmed downstate hospitals.

After public outcry, he withdrew the mandate and secured cooperation instead. He should have learned his lesson then about how far you can push people in a crisis.

If he wants to manage the impending second wave of covid effectively, he’ll have to learn that lesson for real this time.

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