A New York State Supreme Court on Staten Island Monday upheld the state's restrictions on indoor dining capacity amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision by Judge Thomas Aliotta backs the state's capacity limits afte several restaurants had filed suit to challenge the regulations. At the same time, New York is limiting indoor dining in parts of Erie, Monroe and Onondaga counties as part of an effort to lower the COVID postive rate in those areas.
Restaurants had argued the capacity limits treated them unfairly. But the 15-page ruling upheld the state's ability to do so, pointing to the ease of spreading the virus.
"The County of Richmond does not exist within a bubble to the exclusion of the remainder of the City," Aliotta wrote in the decision. "After a patron visits a dining establishment in the Upstate Regions, Westchester, Nassau or Suffolk Counties, their potential to spread this deadly virus to mass amounts of people per square mile is markedly lower."
And more broadly, the judge found New York's capacity limits on indoor capacity limits amount to a "real and substantional" public health and safety concern.
"There may be significant disagreement about the wisdom and efficacy of the Governor's protective measures, but it is neither the role of the courts to second-guess the Governor's approach,', nor to take " a piecemeal approach and scrutinize individual aspects of a rule designed to protect public health or otherwise create an exception for particular individuals impacted by it,'" the ruling found.
The restaurant industry has been badly battered by the pandemic as has the hospitality industry overall in New York, with many of the state's job losses coming from that sector of the economy.