Updated: November 11, 2020 11:15 PM
Created: November 11, 2020 10:28 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Rochester area bars and restaurants Wednesday blasted new coronavirus containment regulations from the state, declaring that not only would they devastate already struggling businesses but that they would actually cause more spread of the virus rather than stop it.
"I am laying off five people as of Friday,” said Mike O’Leary, owner of the Temple Bar and Grill downtown, already calculating the pain.
Under state coronavirus restrictions, he says his staff is already half of what it was a year ago, that he's not even breaking even now and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's new requirement that bars and restaurants stop serving in-house at 10 p.m. will be devastating because after 10 p.m. is when he does most of his business.
And he's not convinced by the governor's declaration that the change even addresses the surge in COVID-19 cases.
"Bars, restaurants, gyms, house parties, that's where it's coming from,” Cuomo said on Wednesday as he announced that, effective this Friday, in-house service must stop at 10 p.m. at any business with a state liquor license, that gyms must close by 10 p.m. as well and that in-home events could not exceed 10 people.
O’Leary said he’s not buying it.
"[Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Michael] Mendoza and [Monroe County Executive] Adam Bello came out this week and said restaurants and bars are not the problem. House parties are the problem,” he said.
At Domm's Bowling in Rochester, General Manager John Martorella pointed to the plastic dividers that protect bowlers from each other, but as a place that sells liquor, it will have to close by 10 p.m. also, cutting off important Friday and Saturday nights when it’s normally open until midnight.
"It is a very few important hours,” he said. “It's definitely going to put us more in the red."
O'Leary warns the new rules will cause more COVID-19 spread, by chasing late-night crowds out of carefully controlled bars with all their distancing and countermeasures into uncontrolled house parties.
And he says local government is failing by not punishing those caught holding parties, even as a business like his face big fines for violating protocols.
“Adam Bello came out this week and said there will be no repercussions,” he said. “There won’t be any fines or penalties for anybody having a house party. So you close all the bars and restaurants. It’s just going to move people to house parties where they have already agreed that that’s where the problem is.”
News10NBC reached out to representatives of Monroe County and the City of Rochester and they have not responded.
Copyright 2020 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company