In response to “thousands” of complaints of noncompliance with COVID-related rules, Governor Andrew Cuomo instituted measures at bars and restaurants to ensure compliance.
Establishments statewide are only permitted to serve alcohol to people who are ordering and eating food and walk-up bar service is not allowed. All service at bar-tops must be for seated patrons who are six feet apart or separated by physical barriers, Cuomo said.
In a phone briefing for the press on Thursday, he said there was significant evidence of noncompliance, particularly in New York City, though he has mentioned issues on Long Island in the past. The state, he said, has received over 5,000 complaints in downstate New York that results in many cases of failure to comply.
“It’s wrong, it’s dangerous, it’s selfish, it’s unacceptable. It’s also illegal,” Cuomo said.
The governor said if people are seated at tables they are socially distanced from other patrons, accept those at their table. “If you’re just drinking, it’s just an outdoor bar and people are just mingling and they’re not isolated,” he said.
Cuomo came down even harder on New York City establishments. The “Three Strikes and You’re Closed” initiative will mean that any bar or restaurant will be closed after receiving three violations.
Egregious violations can still mean the immediate loss of a liquor license, which the State Liquor Authority has the ability to do under a previous executive order.
Any establishment brought up on disciplinary charges by the State Liquor Authority will have its name and location posted publicly. The list will be updated on a weekly basis.
If the state sees more noncompliance in other regions of the state—like on Long Island—Cuomo said the restrictions will be extended immediately.
The governor also announced that he will make a decision by 4 p.m. on Friday as to whether New York City will be permitted to enter Phase 4 of the reopening process. The city is on track for entering the fourth phase on Monday. It is the only region not already in Phase 4.
However, even if New York City can proceed forward, Cuomo said no additional indoor activity will be allowed. Indoor malls and cultural institutions will not be permitted to open, though they have in other parts of the state.
“As we continue our science-based phased reopening, the number of hospitalizations and our rate of positive tests remain steady and low,” Cuomo said. “But we need to remember our success fighting this virus is a function of our own actions. Mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing—basic as they may seem—are critical to controlling the spread of this virus. Especially now that we are seeing spikes in cases throughout the country, this is not the time to let up—especially on compliance enforcement. We know the prescription and we know it works—we just need to be smart and do it.”