Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday the city will ramp up its enforcement of coronavirus social distancing rules at bars and restaurants for the upcoming hot-weather weekend — as Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that more than three dozen eateries and pubs were hit with violations.
There will be “a lot of enforcement” for the coming weekend, when temps are forecast to soar into the 90s, de Blasio told reporters during his daily City Hall press briefing.
“We absolutely are planning to have a lot of people out — the civilian folks doing education, the face coverings, a lot from the Sheriff’s Office, police department as needed,” de Blasio said. “But we are very focused on getting the point across to people and everybody has got to take this seriously and help each other by following the rules.”
The city and state have been cracking down on Big Apple watering holes and eateries after reports surfaced that droves of patrons started gathering outside some of them without practicing social distancing or wearing masks.
Earlier this week, Cuomo announced that the State Liquor Authority indefinitely suspended the liquor licenses of three restaurants and bars in Queens — including two in Astoria — that drew large crowds of revelers.
The governor has vowed to shut down any establishments that repeatedly violate the COVID-19 safety protocols and has continually said local governments are not doing enough to enforce compliance.
“We have had some trouble areas,” de Blasio said, citing Astoria and the Lower East Side.
Cuomo, speaking at his own press briefing Friday, said the State Liquor Authority, in conjunction with the State Police, went out Thursday night “primarily” on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, as well as Astoria in Queens and Long Island, and issued compliance violations Friday to 37 bars and eateries.
“I’ve asked local governments repeatedly to step up and do the enforcement repeatedly,” Cuomo said, adding, “They’re not enforcing it aggressively enough.”
Cuomo said the SLA is “doing their job — they’re doing it aggressively.”
The governor called on local governments to “step up and do your job,” as he singled out the NYPD and the Suffolk County Police Department.
Cuomo said the SLA and the State Police will continue enforcement “and they’re there to work hand in hand with local governments.”
It’s believed that the issue of crowds at bars and restaurants is “connected” to an uptick in the state’s coronavirus infection rate among young people, Cuomo said.
Meanwhile, de Blasio admitted Friday, “We’ve got to do better,” but said the compliance problem “is still not enough to say wide-scale shutdown of businesses, wide-scale fines.”
De Blasio said there will be “more and better education, more focused enforcement and we have made clear if people really ignore the warnings, then of course some institutions have and will be shut down, fines will be used, but we are still striking a balance and I still believe overwhelmingly compliance has been consistent in most of the city.”
Hizzoner explained, “Where we need to go and use tougher measures like shutting down an institution, we will.”
“The bar and restaurant world did see places starting to be shut down and that message is spreading that they got to be responsible,” de Blasio said. “Where we need to bring in the NYPD in particular situations, absolutely we will.”
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