Very few things can stop determined bureaucrats from carrying out their agency’s function. That includes pandemics, as this item on New York state’s liquor authority makes abundantly, and absurdly, clear:

…New York government is allowing the State Liquor Authority to aggressively enforce rules that require drinking establishments to serve food with alcoholic beverages they sell during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this has led to some ridiculous situations. For example, Pint Sized (a Saratoga Springs craft beer bar) was hit with an expected $1,500 fine for failing to serve what regulators deemed was enough veggies per pint of beer. Pint Sized was attempting to comply with New York’s rule by offering simple bowls of canned vegetables, beans, or chili to each customer.

It turned out that customers were understandably unable to keep up with all the bowls of food landing on their tables. The bar’s staff started to feel guilty about food waste, with good reason given the struggles of food banks during the pandemic, and elected to cut back portions to one bowl of food per table of customers. When undercover agents from the State Liquor Authority ordered brews at Pint Sized and received an insufficient amount of food alongside their drinks, the agency fined the bar.

The piece (from the R Street Institute), also notes that other states have also instituted food rules in the pandemic’s wake:

…leading to absurd experiences such as beer gardens in Philadelphia selling a single boiled egg alongside a beer and California regulators going into painstaking detail about whether salad counts as food or not.

Governments should not be smothering already struggling businesses with bizarre rules that raise costs and encourage waste.

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA (