East Hampton Town police sent out three man teams in downtown Montauk during the overnight hours on the Fourth of July to check on restaurants and bars to ensure compliance with the Phase 3 guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While most establishments visited were deemed to be in compliance, three establishments were not, according to East Hampton Town police.
Rick Gibbs, the owner of Rick’s Crabby Cowboy Café on East Lake Drive, Jeff Capri, the manager of the downtown bar and restaurant Nick’s on the Beach, formerly known as Sloppy Tuna, and Vincenzo Lentini, the owner of Ruschmeyer’s, located on Second House Road, were all written up on misdemeanor criminal charges, the police said.
The initial charges involved signage and the storage of alcohol in the establishments.
According to the press release sent out by the town, police shot videos of other alleged violations at the three sites, some of which were COVID-19 safety and health regulations, which will be referred to the New York State Liquor Authority.
During the pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo has authorized the SLA to revoke the licenses of establishments that violate the COVID-19 health and safety regulations. However, Cuomo has said local governments need to step up enforcement.
“While the vast majority of businesses are operating safely, and are respectful of the potential threat from COVID-19, we cannot allow some to operate in ways that threaten the public health as well as the continued ability for other businesses to remain open,” East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said in a statement.
“I will be asking the State Liquor Authority to suspend the license of any business that openly and repeatedly flouts COVID-19 safety regulations. We cannot afford to have responsible businesses shut down due to irresponsible operators,” he continued.
Videos and photos taken of crowds at several Montauk establishments will be sent to the SLA.
Police responded to 107 calls for service between 6 PM on July 4 and 6 AM on July 5.
Long Island is currently in Phase 3 of the economic reopening. Private gatherings are limited to 25 people or less, restaurants are limited to 50 percent capacity, and alcohol is allowed be served in conjunction with food service and only to patrons who are seated at a six-foot social distance.
Phase 4 is slated to begin on Wednesday.