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One size fits none

Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t want to give up his emergency powers. An executive action last week suggests maybe he should.

The governor took steps to limit bars and restaurants as coronavirus cases climbed in some parts of New York. Those increases haven’t come with as significant an increase in hospitalizations throughout the state, which makes us wonder why reopening was handled on a county-by-county or region-by-region basis but additional limitations are being handled statewide.

Cuomo ordered that bars and restaurants are subject to new requirements to serve alcohol to people ordering and eating food, while bar-top service is only for seated people who are socially distanced or separated by physical barriers. Three violations could result in the loss of a business’ liquor license or closure.

We appreciate that bar patrons are often unwilling to wear masks, socially distance and do their part to keep the coronavirus from killing more people. Bartenders have a hard job. They are truly on the front lines, and we encourage them to keep standing up for what needs to happen, even if it costs them tips.

Why take these actions in areas where cases are increasing slowly, if at all? What will the food requirement accomplish? That’s akin to smacking a fly with a sledgehammer. A sector that was already struggling just took another roundhouse punch with little regard for the restaurant owners or their employees.

We’re also not sure such a step was really necessary. Contact tracing should allow local health officials to make connections between problem bars or restaurants, and then act accordingly.

If there is one lesson we had hoped the governor would have learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that one-size-fits-all policies don’t work in a state as diverse as New York. Trying to govern densely populated urban areas the same way as rural areas with a country mile between neighbors is truly a one-size-fits-none approach.

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