New York City official proposes pilot program for 24-hour 'entertainment districts'
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The New York City Office of Nightlife has proposed pilot programs for 24-hour nightlife zones that would abolish "last call" at some bars and clubs.
City officials are trying to boost the city’s recovery following a devastating economic loss following the coronavirus pandemic. The pilot program is a new tool the city is exploring, with similar programs in Berlin and Amsterdam proving successful.
"We are recommending this as a pilot to identify areas where 24-hour use might be appropriate," Ariel Palitz, senior executive director of the Office of Nightlife, told WCBS. "New licenses that committed to hosting community programming in exchange for this allowance in certain areas has proved wildly successful."
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Palitz further claimed that the programs in Europe "actually help reduce conflicts and quality of life concerns by not having everyone rushing out and rushing in."
The United Kingdom used similar reasoning in the late '80s when the government extended pub hours, which saw "huge reduction in convictions for drunkenness and other problems."
"There is no justification for a system which encourages the drinker to down as much as possible just before closing time," then-Home Secretary Douglas Hurd argued.
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New York City’s last call, however, is already set at 4 a.m. – far later than the last call for any other city.
However, the "uniform closing hours" for various establishments can "lead to increased tensions when groups of people simultaneously exit venues into public streets and sidewalks," Palitz argues in her 160-page report, which contains the proposed "Entertainment Districts."
Broadway producer Holly-Anne Devlin of Kaleidoscope Entertainment welcomed the idea of round-the-clock partying, especially in such iconic locations like Times Square.
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"We have to compete with Vegas and we have to compete with Miami and right now we’re not. Those cities are just more fun," Devlin told The New York Post. Devlin launched "Speakeasy," a burlesque show, at Bond 45 in Times Square Friday.
"We’d love to be able to perform all the time," she said.
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Palitz believes the city can follow Amsterdam’s model, providing 24-hour licenses to establishments based on strict criteria that include factors such as accessibility to public transit and possible inconvenience to local residents.
The update would require a change to state law.
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