Six more bars and restaurants in New York City temporarily lost their liquor license last week for violating social distancing regulations. Following a statewide compliance check between July 21 and July 23, the State Liquor Authority found violations at 84 establishments and suspended the liquor licenses of 10 bars, of which six were in the five boroughs, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday. Over the weekend, an additional 105 violations were issued to bars and restaurants, the governor said on Sunday.
According to the governor, the new multi-agency task force went to check on places primarily downstate. Businesses found in violation of coronavirus regulations can face fines up to $10,000 per violation and can result in the immediate suspension of their liquor license.
“I’ve asked local governments repeatedly to step up and do the enforcement,” Cuomo said on Friday. “That’s what they’re supposed to do, enforce the law. They’re not enforcing it aggressively enough.”
On Sunday, Cuomo said 105 violations were issued with suspensions to be determined this week. “This weekend in every county in downstate NY investigators found blatant disregard for the law at bars & restaurants,” Cuomo tweeted. “The state will enforce health laws. If we don’t, the virus will spread.”
Six establishments in New York City had their liquor licenses suspended, with four on Long Island. Four other bars and restaurants previously had their liquor license suspended include Brik Bar and M.I.A. in Astoria, Maspeth Pizza House in Maspeth, and Secrets Gentleman’s Club in Deer Park.
New suspensions from last week include Aqua in the Bronx, Cipriani Downtown in Soho, Set L.E.S. on the Lower East Side, Guaro’s Tapas Bar and Lounge in Jackson Heights, Kandela in Howard Beach, and La Pollera Colorada II in Jackson Heights.
The liquor authority suspended the liquor license of the White Horse Tavern earlier this month, issuing the historic West Village bar more than 30 violations. According to the SLA, White Horse Tavern illegally opened for outdoor dining and drinking during the city’s phase one of reopening, when only take-out and delivery orders were permitted.
Over three days, the SLA conducted nearly 1,100 compliance checks and documented 84 violations, with 37 in one day. So far, state investigators have brought “443 charges against licensees statewide and imposed 33 Emergency Orders of Suspension,” according to the governor’s office. A full list of businesses charged and suspended can be found here.
The crackdown on bars and restaurants comes as New York sees an increased infection rate of COIVD-19 among young people aged 20 to 29 years old, despite the number of hospitalizations, people currently in ICU, and deaths all staying consistently low. “One of the things we’re watching are the bar and restaurant violations and the congregations in front of bars and restaurants,” the governor said Friday. “We believe that’s connected to the increase in the number of young people, the infection rate among the number people, 21 to 30, went from nine to 13, so we’re watching that.”
In addition to a “three strikes and you’re closed” initiative for any bars that receive three violations, the governor also said establishments can only serve alcohol with “substantial food” only, which means no chips, pretzels, or peanuts. New guidance from the SLA says “a tavern license’s minimum food requirement is soups, sandwiches, and the like.”
“Most of the bars and restaurants have been great, really have been great. It’s always the same – it’s a handful of bad actors who ruin it for everyone and it’s the bad actors who wind up hurting the good ones,” Cuomo said during a press briefing on Monday. “And that’s why you see many of the major groups that represent bar owners and restaurants are 100 percent supportive of the enforcement because if you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t have to worry about the enforcement.”
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