Syracuse is playing Houston in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament Sweet 16 round on Saturday at 9:55 p.m.
But restaurants and bars are still constrained to an 11 p.m. curfew. In their 20th appearance in the Sweet 16 under head coach Jim Boeheim, will Orange fans be able to go and stay to their favorite restaurants and bars to tune in to the game?
State lawmakers are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to rescind the 11 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants for Saturday and every day moving forward.
“Whatever happens it has to be universal it just shouldn't be for one particular area,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente. “But the other issue is if we are going to open up and change the curfew for that (Syracuse game) then shouldn’t we change the curfew and its entirety?
Most recent data from New York State shows that the Central New York region has a 0.91% positivity rate, the second lowest in the state. The governor is lifting the curfew on gyms, casinos, bowling alleys and movie theaters beginning April 5.
Sports bars like BBG’s in Yorkville suffered because of the curfew. So being able to stay open later for the Syracuse game would be a big help.
“Super Bowl we had to throw everybody out. We just found out this games at 9:55 Saturday night. You finally get a customers in the door and now you have to say you have to leave?” said Christine Carleo, co-owner of BBG’s.
The sports bar has been owned and operated by Carleo and Donna Vivero since 2012. With added curfews and capacity restrictions due to Covid-19, 2020 was by far the toughest year.
“When we were first allowed to open at 9 o'clock, what we did was we shortened our hours. We used to be open seven days-a-week. We’re now only open five days-a-week. We started opening at 4 o'clock Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and closing at 9 o'clock. So it decimated the business completely,” said Carleo.
BBG’s started serving a ‘Bottomless Brunch” beginning at 10 a.m. to get customers to visit earlier in the day.
“When he (Cuomo) moved the curfew to 10 o'clock business was still slow so we kept it pretty much at the same hours,” said Vivero. “We follow all the rules, we sanitize, we’re very careful and I think all of our customers know that anyway.”
“We’re at a point where our bars and restaurants that have suffered tremendously over the last year and our numbers are good in that regard, it doesn’t make sense that you’re saying that after a certain hour COVID is more prevalent. In order for these establishments to continue to survive those hours and those curfews need to be lifted. It should’ve never been about the hours anyway. It should’ve been about capacity. So if they can handle that in this time period until we can get to a more greater percentage than the curfew needs to go away as well,” said Picente.
When asked about the exemption of the 11 p.m. curfew for the Syracuse game during his daily press briefing, Cuomo praised the Orange for making it to the Sweet 16, “First, congratulations to Syracuse. That was a great game. Coach Boeheim, it just warms my heart to watch them play.”
He then referred the question of the curfew to Dr. Howard Zucker, New York State commissioner of health.
“Regarding that we are reviewing this request and we want the team to win but we also want people to be safe. So we’re looking at that to be sure that whatever decision we make makes sure that the fans are safe,” said Zucker.
Cuomo added that the state is “actively looking at it.”
“The Governor did this with the Buffalo Bills in the stadium when nobody else could have fans. So it’s really not fair that they're being selective in terms of opening it up. With all due respect, Syracuse University is in Onondaga. But we are a big Syracuse country, Central New York in its entirety and all of upstate, we’re rooting for Syracuse. If Onondaga is opened up and the curfews extended I can tell you Oneida will be as well," said Picente.
No. 11 Syracuse will face No. 2 seed Houston on Saturday, March 27 at 9:55 p.m. airing on TBS.