New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced late last month that he has suspended the liquor licenses for 12 bars in New York City for allegedly “egregious” COVID-19 violations.
The liquor license suspensions were declared at State Liquor Authority Board meetings after officials from New York’s multi-agency task force conducted more than 1,900 compliance checks. The compliance checks revealed 158 violations, according to the governor. The bars, all located in Queens, could face up to $10,000 in fines per violation.
The violations in the 12 bars included a lack of social distancing, inadequate spreading out of tables, a lack of facial coverings among customers and employees, failure to sell food with alcohol as required and extending outdoor service beyond the city’s 11 p.m. curfew.
The bars that had their licenses suspended included seven in Jackson Heights: Lima, RubiRosa, Mr Pancho’s Café, De La Mora Restaurant, El Patio Bar, El Paisa Café and Romanticos. The other five bars punished were CJ’s Bar and Lounge in Ozone Park, Blue Angel Lounge in Corona, The Grand in Astoria, Delicia’s Mexicanas in Corona and The Pomeroy in Astoria.
In total, across the state, 45 businesses have had their liquor licenses suspended and investigators made 503 charges. Cuomo accused the bars and restaurants of ignoring public health guidance and “disrespecting” the “sacrifices” of New Yorkers earlier in the pandemic. “New Yorkers have worked hard to flatten the curve, but the bars and restaurants that ignore public health guidance are disrespecting their sacrifices which have saved lives while allowing us to sustain the reopening of our economy,” he said in
“Local governments must enforce the law, but the task force has stepped up its efforts and with these additional suspensions we are sending a clear message that the State will not hesitate to take action against businesses that put New Yorkers’ health and safety at risk,” he added.
The New York governor threatened earlier in July that “egregious” violators of the state’s public health orders could be immediately closed and forced to give up their liquor licenses. Cuomo also mandated all bars and restaurants needed to serve food to those who order alcohol.
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York Hospitality Alliance, noted that more than 9,000 restaurants are participating in the Open Restaurants Initiative. He said 132 violations represents a tiny percentage of those businesses.
“We should be working to educate the businesses and correcting the behavior before issuing the penalty,” Rigie said.
New York was the first state hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak in March and April, but the state has since seen the number of new cases identified daily decline to a seven-day average of 717 COVID-19 cases. In total, New York has confirmed 412,878 cases and 25,126 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
Cuomo has also instituted a travel advisory requiring travelers from states with outbreaks to quarantine for 14 days after entering New York. Currently, 36 states are listed on the advisory.