The restaurants argued that the governor's restrictions prohibiting them from offering indoor dining were arbitrary and not based on evidence related to the coronavirus. Judge Henry J. Nowak agreed, writing in his decision that the state Department of Health (DOH) used unreliable contract tracing data to determine which areas were put under various restrictions. (RELATED: These Governors Told Citizens To Stay Home. Then They Broke Their Own COVID Rules)
Cuomo implemented a "Micro-Cluster" strategy to control the spread of coronavirus that designated various areas of the state as red, orange, or yellow zones. Red zones, or areas that were considered coronavirus hot-spots, were subject to the most restrictive rules. Orange zones were the areas directly surrounding the red zones and were the second-most restrictive, and yellow zones were the least restrictive. The DOH monitored data on testing and hospitalizations and used contact tracing to determine the geographic boundaries for the red, orange, and yellow zones.
Most of Erie County, where the restaurants that filed the lawsuit are located, was designated as an orange zone on Nov. 18. Under the orange zone's restrictions, restaurants and bars were prohibited from serving food or beverages on site.