New York bars and restaurants can now keep their doors open until midnight.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that the 11 p.m. curfew in place for such establishments would be extended an hour effective April 19.
At the same time, Cuomo also extended the curfew for catered events from midnight to 1 a.m.
The news comes as welcome relief for restauranteurs across the state, and particularly those in New York City who have long been calling on the governor to push the curfew from 10 p.m. to midnight in order to help ensure their long-term survival.
Cuomo had originally imposed the 10 p.m. curfew on all bars, restaurants and any other establishments with state liquor licenses in November, saying it was a necessary measure after contract tracing data showed "establishments where alcohol is served, gyms, and indoor gatherings at private homes" were contributing to the spread of coronavirus.
However, industry leaders argued that bars and restaurants in New York state were the cause of only 1.4% of COVID-19 cases compared to other gatherings.
In February, the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA), which represents thousands of restaurants, argued that loosening the restrictions, including extending the curfew by two hours, would "stimulate much needed business" to the struggling industry.
Cuomo's updated measure comes as the positivity rate in New York state continues to decline while an increasing number of residents get vaccinated.
One day before the extension took effect, Cuomo said the COVID-19 positivity rate dropped to 2.35%, which is the lowest reported since Nov. 7.
"New York is making tremendous progress in our goal to vaccinate every New Yorker while keeping the infection and hospitalization rates down," Cuomo said.
However, the governor still cautioned that the virus remains "a concern across the state."
Cuomo added that "we must stay vigilant and continue with the behaviors we know slow the spread - washing your hands, staying socially distanced and wearing a mask."