SLA faces lawsuit by NYC Venues and Bars Over New Guidelines

Angered that the State Liquor Authority (SLA) created new guidelines last week in regards to live music and ticketed events, establishments have teamed up to file a lawsuit.

SLA lawsuit

According to the SLA’s website, venues and bars cannot hold ticketed events, karaoke and other live entertainments. They claim that an establishment is allowed to have “incidental live music,” but it cannot be ticketed or advertised.

“Only incidental music is permissible at this time. This means that advertised and/or ticketed shows are not permissible. Music should be incidental to the dining experience and not the draw itself. All other forms of live entertainment, such as exotic dancing, comedy shows, karaoke etc., are not permissible currently regardless of phase.”

via SLA website

To many establishments, they feel these new guidelines will affect business drastically. According to the lawsuit, these rules restrict “free speech.”

“Despite the fact that coronavirus is not transmitted via sound waves, the SLA just decimated already struggling businesses. This rule prohibits lawfully operating establishments from advertising the entertainment that is lawfully available: to wit, a ban on advertising of music at food service establishments. This constitutes a content-based restriction on free speech,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit was filed with the support of the New York Independent Venue Association. Forming this past summer, NIVA has been on the forefront of the #SaveOurStages movement. Their mission was and still is to get financial support from Congress to the industry. They represent over 100 independent music venues including The Tralf, Littlefield, Birdland Jazz Club in Manhattan and Buffalo Iron Works in western New York.

The new guidelines appeared not too long after multiple raves throughout NYC got busted for illegally selling liquor and disobeying the social distancing rule.

Bill Crowly, a spokesperson for SLA told Gothamist that large gatherings such as these can be very dangerous.

“These high-risk gatherings would create exactly the situation we are trying to avoid, where people congregate, mingle, and create congestion at points of ingress and egress,” Crowly said.

On the side of the restaurant/bar industry, a manager, Kim, at Littlefield said that its been a hard time reopening and that costumers have to respect that.

“Nightlife is so vital here—I don’t know why else people would move to New York, and I feel like it’s going to die. We’re holding out as long as we can with whatever aid we can get. But this is going to change the whole landscape of nightlife in New York,” said Kim.

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