BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – As it stands now, restaurants in New York State are still required to close by 10 p.m. due to COVID-19 rules. That could put owners in an interesting spot Sunday night.
The AFC Championship between the Bills and Chiefs is scheduled to kickoff around 6:40 p.m. Last Sunday, the NFC Divisional matchup between Tampa Bay and New Orleans kicked off at that same time. The game lasted three hours and 12 minutes, officially. That means it ended just after 9:50 p.m.
“There’s nothing saying for certain that this (Bills) game will be over by 10 o’clock, especially if you throw and overtime in there,” said Jay Manno, owner of Soho on Chippewa.
Soho will once again be taking part in Playoffs on the Patio, an event which will shut down Chippewa St. between Delaware and Franklin from 1p.m. Sunday to 11:30. Manno’s restaurant, as well as Rec Room, will be offering outdoor seating in the street. He’s hoping the state will grant a one-night-only 30 minute extension on the 10 p.m. curfew Sunday.
But if the rules don’t change, “We’re not gong to serve any more food or beverages after 10 o’clock,” he said. “Everything will be done by then.”
Meanwhile, in Kansas City, Mo., officials just last week allowed restaurants to extend their closing times from 10 p.m. to midnight.
“That’s what we asked for last week (for the Ravens game),” Manno said. “Obviously I would love to see midnight happen.”
But to this point, the state hasn’t budged.
“The fact is the CDC has specifically pointed to indoor dining as a higher-risk activity, and this policy is a commonsense way to reduce exposure risk,” a New York State Department of Health spokesperson said last week. “As much as we feel for restaurants in Buffalo and as much as we want to let fans watch the game at bars, we won’t sacrifice public health.”
State officials have not yet responded to inquiries about this coming Sunday night.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter and anchor who started working at WIVB in 2017. A Lancaster native, he came to Buffalo after working at stations in Rochester and Watertown. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.