NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The city is stepping up enforcement after crowds flocked outside bars on the Upper East Side this weekend, many violating restrictions in place.
Sunday evening, an army of officers from the New York Sheriff’s Department lined up along Second Avenue and 84th Street on the Upper East Side.
They were out to enforce social distancing rules after blatant violations in the neighborhood Saturday night.
“The people that don’t respect the rules of the mask, it’s uncomfortable,” one woman said.
“Last night, it was pretty crazy out,” Upper East Side resident Mike Romano said.
Romano told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez he saw countless people out enjoying the warm spring weekend weather, buying alcoholic drinks from restaurants and bars then hanging out in large groups on the sidewalk.
Some restaurants were even providing chairs, and many people were not wearing masks.
“Look, when I was young, I wanted to have a lot of, a good time too, so I’m not holding it against young people. I just felt it was a bad situation, and I felt concerned for people my age,” Romano said.
“I think it’s a little disrespectful. I think it’s important you wear a mask and not drink on the sidewalk just because the bars are open,” Olivia Katzenstein said.
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Some restaurants put up signs discouraging loitering, but Mayor Bill de Blasio says businesses ignoring the rules will face consequences.
“They will be visited immediately with inspectors and there’ll be serious fines. And if we have to shut places down, we will if they’re starting to violate these rules because this is about health and safety,” de Blasio said Sunday.
Some residents are worried about other quality of life issues that could arise with warmer weather, such as more people heading to the bars for carry-out beverages and congregating on the sidewalks with no restrooms around.
“We don’t want to encourage people to obviously go to the bathroom outside, but you want to go to your neighborhood bars and support them and then go home after,” Samantha Sighey said.
John Enos lives in the neighborhood and says he doesn’t think the issues will continue.
“I think yesterday was an anomaly. I think it was quarantine fatigue,” he said.
We will see if that’s the case as summer gets closer.