NYC Restaurants And Bars Can No Longer Sell Alcohol Without Food

You might have questions about what’s going on with the new food and drink policy - we have answers.

Updated July 24th, 2020

In a press conference on July 16th, Governor Cuomo announced two new policies for bars and restaurants. The first is a three-strike system for establishments that violate state social distancing and face covering mandates, and the second requires bars and restaurants to only serve alcohol to people who are also ordering food.

Here's What We Know So Far

In the simplest terms, what’s the new policy?

If you order a drink at a restaurant or bar, you also have to buy something to eat.

Can it just be a bag of chips?

Nope. When the policy was first announced, the State Liquor Authority guidance originally defined “a food item” as “sandwiches, soups or other foods, whether fresh, processed, pre-cooked or frozen.” Then lots of the city’s bars began selling chips to comply with the new rule - and the State Liquor Authority updated their guidance to clarify that bags of chips don’t in fact count as food. You can read more about that latest update here.

What if it’s at a takeout window on the street?

This rule applies to both to-go drinks as well as seated table service.

When did this change happen?

This policy became effective Friday, July 17th.

Why is this change happening?

The State Liquor Authority’s guidance explains that the purpose of this rule is to stop “the congregating and mingling that arise in a bar service/drinking only environment.” Also, in his announcement on Thursday, the governor cited a rise in cases in the NYC region since restaurants and bars reopened for outdoor dining on June 22nd.

If I’m sitting with a group, can we share a food item to fulfill the requirement?

Yep. According to the State Liquor Authority, groups can share food “so long as it/they would sufficiently serve the number of people in the party.”

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