The New York Sate Liquor Authority (NYSLA) has voted to lift COVID-19 restrictions that have limited bars and restaurants over the last pandemic year.

The Authority met during their regular meeting on Wednesday and voted unanimously to drop their restrictions.

"I think this is excellent news and I'm going to vote to approve, as well," said Commissioner Greeley Ford, who lives in the Utica area. "This will allow them to go back to their normal operations, as long as they are following health department and CDC guidelines," he said.

The move will also restore the licenses of more than 150 licensees who agreed to restrictions as penalties to violations during the last year. Bar and restaurant owners will have to abide by their current license restrictions, until their newly restored license arrives in the mail. Licensees do not have to contact the liquor authority to get the restored license. These licenses will automatically be processed and mailed out before the end of the week. This lifting of restrictions would not apply to licensees have have not settled their violation case with NYSLA.

Restaurants, bars, and venues can now follow the normal restrictions they already have on their liquor license, unless there's a NYS Health Department restriction that supersedes it. They still will need to follow any new CDC requirements, in leu of the NYS Health Department requirements.

See the latest Health Department Guidelines here.

The lifting of NYSLA restrictions is effective immediately.

This means that in bars and restaurants, "fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks or be socially distanced, but unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks and be socially distanced," according to NYS Health Department guidelines.

Indoor dining in bars and restaurants was shutdown in March after last year during the COVID-19 outbreak, and there has been a very slow unwinding of the pandemic guidelines since about this time last year.

The NYSLA was charged with enforcing strict guidelines over the last year on establishments that serve alcohol.


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