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Restaurant, bar owners still scrambling to figure out what ‘incidental music’ means in new liquor authority guidance

Restaurants and bars around New York State are still trying to figure out what the new state Liquor Authority requirements for live music mean for their businesses.

New rules tied to COVID-19 state that bars cannot sell tickets, or advertise bands and artists performing at their establishments. It’s tied to a classification of music acts at those establishments being ‘incidental’.


Over the last month, the Pelican’s Nest Restaurant in Charlotte brought back live entertainment. This week, those plans were interrupted by new state rules saying any music needs to be incidental.

Owner Terry Testa says he’s still trying to figure out what the rule means legally.


“People were masked up. They were following the rules and it was very encouraging. So, to have this come down the pike so quickly without any notice, it’s tough,” said Testa.

Advocates were concerned about the changes, which were brought on without warning.

“But now, it’s got to be incidental. Define incidental. That’s such a gray area and I’m fearful of continuing with some music choices we had booked here for dining experiences,” added Testa.

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