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Stay up to date with the latest news on the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. We'll post regular updates from NPR and regional news from the WRVO newsroom. You can also find updates on our live blog.

New York bars, restaurants can soon stay open 'til midnight

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Dan Taylor-Watt
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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York will push back its curfew for bars and restaurants an hour to midnight, starting Monday, as the state continues to relax coronavirus-related restrictions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

The governor also announced during a telephone briefing Wednesday that auto and horse racing events will be able to accommodate spectators at 20% capacity starting April 23. Spectators will be required to wear a mask, social distance and provide proof of a recent negative test or completed vaccinations.

“But at the same time, we caution New Yorkers: Don’t get cocky. The disease is still very much with us,” Cuomo said.

The New York Racing Association said it was gearing up to host fans at its thoroughbred tracks at Belmont Park this spring and Saratoga Race Course this summer.

Statewide hospitalizations for the virus have fallen dramatically from a post-holiday peak of more than 9,000 people in January but remain above 4,000. About a quarter of New York residents have been fully vaccinated, according to state data.

Weddings and other catered events will be allowed to run until 1 a.m. instead of midnight as of Monday, the Democratic governor said.

Restaurants had pleaded for an end to the 11 p.m. curfew, saying that pandemic restrictions were hurting their business.

A similar curfew was lifted earlier this month for casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, billiard halls and fitness centers.

“The extra hour is good news for restaurants, bars and customers, but we still need a road map for when the curfew will be lifted like it has for other industries,” said Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, an industry group.

He also urged the state to stop prohibiting diners from being seated at restaurants’ bars and to reconsider a requirement that patrons who order an alcoholic beverage get food with it.