NEW YORK — Restaurants and bars will see more social distancing enforcement after overcrowding at an Astoria bar spurred police to shut it down last weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.
“No one wants to shut down bars or restaurants,” de Blasio said. “If we have to shut down a few of those, it is a hell of a lot better than seeing coronavirus resurge.”
The New York’s Sheriff Office and the NYPD will increase enforcement efforts to ensure patrons keep six feet apart with restaurants risking summons and bans from the city’s Open Restaurants program.
This announcement comes after weeks of maskless partygoers flooding the streets outside Brik Astoria, on Steinway Street and Broadway.
“We’re going to have a lot of presence out there,” de Blasio said. “This is dangerous if we don’t do it right.”
Queens lawmakers for weeks have been raising concerns about behavior in the Astoria bar but, when asked why it took the city so long to act, de Blasio said he didn’t have enough information to respond.
“We’ve tried to use education and we’ve tried to use warnings,” de Blasio said. “Now it’s time to take more aggressive actions.”
A second Astoria business, the Fusion Lounge, is currently out of operation because the state's Liquor Authority pulled their license.
In a statement, a Liquor Authority spokesperson said, “The SLA was going to suspend the license for Fusion Lounge for violations of the Governor’s Executive Orders regarding social distancing, but the SLA took action to ensure it would not reopen by denying the license renewal.”
In a statement in response to the governor and mayor's comments on enforcement, Andrew Rigie, executive director of NYC Hospitality Alliance, said the majority of restaurants and bars "are trying to do the right thing but they need clarity and they are confused with the ever changing guidance and requirements.
"Public health and safety is paramount and those business blatantly violating the law must be dealt with, but their bad behavior should not come at the expense of small businesses trying to do the right thing and hanging on for survival," the statement goes on to say.
New York City entered Monday into a restricted Phase Four with the reopening of low risk outdoor venues — such as zoos, botanical gardens and sports arenas without fans — but without indoor dining, malls, museums, theaters or gyms.
New York City’s daily tracking indicators show 74 new COVID-19 hospitalizations, 311 ICU patients and a 2 percent positive testing rate, de Blasio said.
“New York City has come back from the coronavirus,” de Blasio said. “The heroic efforts of new yorkers fighting back this disease have made this possible.”
The city, under a heat advisory as temperatures near 100 degrees, opened Monday 160 cooling centers, 230 cooling and misting locations, 300 hydrants opened with spray caps, 650 spray showers in city parks, de Blasio said.
New Yorkers can find out where those cooling locations are on the city’s Beat The Heat website.
"Please everyone, take this seriously," de Blasio said. "We wanna make sure that everyone is safe today."