ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Mayor Bill de Blasio is promising stepped up enforcement this weekend at bars and restaurants across the city as Gov. Andrew Cuomo sounds the alarm again, worried about young drinkers spreading COVID-19.
The mayor says they plan to have a lot of people out: Civilians doing education, giving out face masks, along with the sheriff’s office, and the police if needed.
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“No one come in here, because everyone’s scared now,” said Astoria restaurant owner Feras Alzughier.
He says sales dropped even more because of crowded scenes like those from last weekend, when throngs of people packed Steinway Street.
“It’s been nonsense and madness. It’s not right to residents, along with people who’s trying to drive,” resident Yaz Ansa told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
The owner at Gyro Uno says his sales have dropped too, but it’s not fair to target these businesses.
“They tell them that they can do outdoor stuff, so that’s what they do. So it’s not their fault if all the people come in and they can’t control this crowds,” the owner said.
Watch Andrea Grymes’ report —
Around the corner at Oliver’s, manager Rebecca Freehill says restaurants should take responsibility for their customers.
“Nobody wants to operate 50%. Nobody wants to operate at even 20%, but you have a shot at operating a little bit, so, you know, follow the rules,” she said. “You gotta tell people, hey, you can’t hang out here.”
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De Blasio admitted Friday Astoria has been a problem spot, but says the overwhelming majority of bars and restaurants citywide have been in compliance with coronavirus rules.
“Where we need to bring in the NYPD in particular situations. Absolutely. We will,” de Blasio said. “It’s still not my impulse to say widescale shut down businesses or widescale fines, because I really think that backfires in terms of what we’re trying to achieve, getting people back to work.”
But Cuomo Friday struck a much stricter tone. He announced the state handed out 37 violations to establishments last night alone for violating coronavirus-related regulations. A social distancing violation for one carries a fine of up to $10,000.
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“One of the things that we’re watching are the bar and restaurant violations and the congregations in front of bars and restaurants. We believe that’s connected to the increase in the number of young people, the infection rate among the number of young people,” Cuomo said. “”They’re not enforcing it aggressively enough.”
He says the state can’t do it alone: Local governments and police departments need to step up enforcement.
“The state police and the [State Liquor Authority] are not going to be enough. Local government, step up and do your job. NYPD, do your job. Do your job Nassau County police, do your job Suffolk County police. Do your job,” Cuomo said.
The governor says the majority of the violations last night were downstate on Long Island, Queens and Manhattan.
Cuomo also said state investigators have inspected more than 1,000 bars and restaurants this week and have suspended liquor licenses for at least nine establishments in the city for COVID-19 violations.