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Light at the End of the Tunnel for Tri-State Hospitality

Jack Pulvirenti

3.25.21 | Industry Insights

Updated: 6.15.21

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the hospitality industry. Bars and restaurants spent most of 2020 shut down, while only recently reopening with strict guidelines and restrictions. However, with the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and falling positivity rates, the governors within the tri-state area are beginning to loosen their restrictions, and there are now steps you can take to prepare for the upcoming Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Here’s what we know as of June 15, 2021:

New York

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has recently made changes to his COVID-19 policies, citing that he is encouraged by the decrease in infection and hospitalization rates and the rise of vaccinations. According to the Governor, New York’s bar and restaurant changes are as follows:

  • On Tuesday, June 15, 2021, Governor Cuomo announced that since 70% of adults have been either fully vaccinated or have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, he will lift all remaining New York Forward industry specific guidelines. These guidelines include social distancing, cleaning and disinfection, health screening and contact information for tracing. Unvaccinated individuals must continue to follow State and Federal CDC guidelines, including the wearing of masks in public. (Update) 
  • As of Wednesday, May 19, 2021, New York State adopted the new CDC guidance for individuals who are fully vaccinated. In most settings now, vaccinated individuals will not be required to wear a mask, while unvaccinated individuals, under both CDC and state guidance must wear masks in all public settings.
  • Capacity restrictions for indoor dining were lifted on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. However, bars and restaurants must continue to follow social distancing guidelines, making it difficult for many bars and restaurants to achieve 100% capacity despite the lifting of the restriction.
  • Curfew for catered events where attendees have proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test were lifted on Monday, May 17, 2021, and the curfew for all catered events will be lifted Monday, May 31, 2021.
  • The food and beverage service curfew (that was set at midnight) was lifted for outdoor dining areas on Monday, May 17, 2021, and will be lifted for indoor dining areas on Monday, May 31, 2021.
  • As of Monday, May 3, 2021, seating at bars is allowed in NYC. However, six feet social distancing between parties is still in effect.
  • Catered events resumed at residences on Monday, May 3, 2021, in accordance with New York State’s re-opening guidelines.
  • As of Wednesday, April 28, 2021, patrons no longer have to order food with the purchase of alcohol at bars and restaurants.
  • In-person and catered events resumed at 50% capacity or 150 people per event on Monday, March 15, 2021.

For more information on following Bar and Restaurant guidance in New York, click here.

New Jersey

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy continues to modify his COVID-19 policies in response to increased vaccinations and a decreased infection and hospitalization rate. The Governor’s updated policies are as follows:

  • Effective Friday, May 28, 2021, New Jersey will no longer require face coverings or social distancing in most public places. However, businesses have the right to impose stricter mask policies and Governor Murphy does suggest to continue wearing masks in indoor public settings.
  • Starting Friday, May 28, 2021, prohibitions on dance floors and standing at bars and restaurants will be lifted.
  • New Jersey ended indoor and outdoor capacity limits on Wednesday, May 19, 2021.
  • Municipalities or counties may regulate the hours of in-person restaurant service after 8:00pm.

For more updates regarding the loosening of restrictions on New Jersey businesses, click here.


Connecticut Governor Lamont’s new policy implementations for Connecticut are as follows:

  • As of Wednesday, May 19th all remaining sector rules for reopening have been lifted, with exceptions related to mask wearing.
  • Masks are no longer required for fully vaccinated individuals. Unvaccinated individuals must continue to use masks.

For further details on Connecticut businesses opening up, click here.

Preparing for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund

As of Tuesday, April 27, 2021, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced that applications for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) will become available on Friday, April 30th at 9:00am EST and will open applications on Monday, May 3rd, at 12:00pm EST. The SBA has also provided an update for operators who will be applying for the RRF. Operators will no longer need to sign up for a System for Award Management (SAM) Account or acquire a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number to register for the RRF. These changes were made to make the application process more efficient for small businesses seeking help.

Almost a year to the day when the economy initially shut down due to the pandemic, hospitality businesses are finally seeing glimpses of hope for the industry. Although safety protocols—such as the continuation of mask wearing and social distancing—are still mandated, it is expected that restrictions will continue decrease over the coming months as more Americans get vaccinated.  We’re not at the finish line yet, but at least there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.

For more information on the changing restrictions on bars and restaurants in the tri-state area or any other matter related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact your Berdon Advisor.