Cuomo: Manhattan, Hamptons Leading the Way In Violations

Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor Andrew Cuomo provided a coronavirus update during a press conference in the Red Room at the State Capitol on June 14.

Governor Andrew Cuomo had a stern warning Sunday for restaurants and bars in the Hamptons if they violate reopening rules and guidelines: The state will shut them down.

While New York is seeing the lowest number of hospitalizations and deaths since the COVID-19 pandemic began and the state is leading the nation’s reduction in the transmission of the virus, the governor expressed concern about the amount of reports filed about violations of the reopening rules. 

Twenty-five thousand complaints about large gatherings, the social distancing rule being violated, and people not wearing masks have come in from all across the state. “We have gotten 25,000 complaints to the State of businesses that are in violation of the reopening plan — 25,000 complaints. We have never received more complaints in a shorter period of time.

“Manhattan and the Hamptons are the leading areas in the state with violations,” he said. “These are not hard to spot violations. People send video of these violations — you can look it up on social media. You don’t need a detective squad to go out and find them. They are rampant and there’s not enough enforcement. I am not going to allow situations to exist that we know have a high likelihood of causing an increase in the spread of the virus.”

Meanwhile, the virus has dramatically increased in 22 states that had already reopened and some are shutting down again, and Cuomo said he does not want to see New York rollback its reopening because businesses and people are ignoring the rules. 

Bars and restaurants run the risk of losing their liquor licenses if they violate the governor’s executive orders. Additionally, patrons can be fined for open container and social distancing violations.

State Liquor Authority inspectors and a task force of state investigators are out on patrol, the governor cautioned. “You can lose your liquor license and that is a big deal for a bar or restaurant. We are not kidding around with this. You’re talking about jeopardizing people’s lives. It’s a legal violation and the SLA inspectors are out there. I am telling you that.”

Local governments need to crack down on businesses and people not following the rules, he said.

During his daily briefing Sunday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said he was not aware of any major issues of non-compliance — though there had been two instances early on in the reopening, including one at Liars’ Saloon in Montauk, which was shut down due to some violations. The Suffolk County Police Department has been coordinating with East End agencies from the beginning, he said.

Suffolk Police Chief Stuart Cameron, who was on the call with Bellone, said the departments have seen issues with each new phase of opening, but that once business owners are educated, there is compliance. “They don’t want the roll back either because they want to be open,” he said.

“There is a difference between us and Manhattan at this point,” Bellone said, pointing to the fact that New York City began Phase 1 on June 8 and Long Island began Phase 2 on June 10, where restaurants could open with outdoor dining.

The county would follow up, but he said, “I’m not concerned at all. I’m very confident that what we are doing we’ll continue to do.”

Some states, like Utah and Oregon, are shutting down again after a spike in the numbers. “Imagine how devastating and dramatic an action that is,” Cuomo said. Imagine how dramatic and dangerous this situation has to be for a state to say — we’re stopping the reopening. What makes the determination? It’s what we do. It is our behavior nothing more nothing less.”

The numbers are good now, but they can change quickly, he cautioned. “They can change in a week. You get undisciplined, you’ll see those numbers change in a week once they change you can’t change them back that quickly,” he said.

The governor said the state has reached the lowest number of hospitalizations and deaths since the pandemic began. The number of total hospitalizations was down Saturday to the lowest level since March 20 with 1,657 people hospitalized statewide. Twenty-three people in New York passed away due to COVID-19 — down from a record-high of 800 just nine weeks ago.

Out of the 62,359 tests conducted in New York State on Saturday, only 694, or 1.1 percent, were positive. The Long Island region’s percentage of positive tests over the last three days has ranged from 1 percent to .90 percent. In Suffolk, 44 people tested positive Saturday, bringing the total infected up to 40.659.

While overnight camps are prohibited from opening this summer, children and parents got some good news Sunday when the governor announced low-risk youth sports, such as baseball, field hockey, and gymnastics, can begin July 6, as long as the region is in Phase 3 of reopening. Only up to two spectators will be allowed per child.

The governor also signed legislation requiring the State Department of Health to conduct a study on the health impacts of COVID-19 on minorities in the state.

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