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Buffalo, NY | Local News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | WGRZ.com

Ruling from state judge on bar, restaurant 11 p.m. curfew expected early next week

Many restaurants and bars have been paying close attention to an ongoing court case focused on challenging New York's closure curfew.

GETZVILLE, N.Y. — No decision was made Friday in a court case challenging the state’s 11 p.m. closure curfew on restaurants and bars.

Attorneys for establishments are trying to get a preliminary injunction to lift that curfew. Both sides went before a judge Friday morning. 

"You have a difficult time seating people at 9 o’clock, at 9:30. In the past, it was 8:30. You don’t want to rush your customers, you want them to have the customers they come out for," said John Bona III, owner of Amherst Pizza & Ale House in Getzville, who talked with 2 On Your Side about the mounting issues he says the state’s 11 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants causes, from confusion with customers to scheduling issues.

"It’s been not a difficult time, but a trying time, getting my employees to stay with me for their employment when they could be offered a full-time position somewhere else," Bona said.

The curfew now is 11 p.m. You may recall the curfew used to be 10 p.m., but that was lifted by state Judge Timothy Walker several weeks ago, only to be reinstated by an appellate judge.

Then Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the curfew to 11.

"The dragging on, the yo-yo, up and down, one day there’s a curfew, the next day there isn’t, sort of thing is devastating to these restaurants. They’ve cut down their capacity, they can only have 50 percent," attorney Paul Cambria said.

Once again, attorneys from both sides argued their case. Lawyers for the establishments say the curfew is arbitrary. State attorneys respond by saying the curfew is needed to help limit the spread of COVID.

Judge Walker presided over Friday’s proceeding and is the same judge who granted the establishments a temporary restraining order earlier this month.

"We hope that he rules again in our favor," Cambria said.

Added Bona: "If it’s not successful, we just keep doing the dance, we just try to get by the way things are."

Attorneys for the state have requested that this case be moved from Erie County to Albany County. The judge will rule on that and the temporary injunction early next week.