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Local N.Y. clubs stripped of liquor licenses after coronavirus crackdown

2020-07-25

ALBANY — A trio of Queens bars have lost their liquor licenses after flouting social distancing rules and failing to rein in unruly crowds, Gov. Cuomo said Tuesday.

The move comes after the governor bristled over viral videos of throngs of people partying outside bars and restaurants in recent weeks as coronavirus waned in the state.

“In terms of the bars, restaurants, I’ve seen the stories, and read the stories in the news media,” Cuomo said during a call with reporters. “I think there’s a basic disconnect. We never authorized bars to reopen. Most states have not allowed bars to operate.”

The state suspended liquor licenses for Brik Bar and MIA, both in Astoria, as well as Maspeth Pizza in Maspeth. A fourth establishment, Secrets Gentleman’s Club, in Deer Park, L.I., also had its license revoked, Cuomo said.

The crackdown comes a day after Mayor de Blasio announced patrols in the city will hone in on areas including Greenwich Village, Hell’s Kitchen, Washington Heights; several Bronx and Brooklyn nabes; Astoria and Ditmars, Queens; where people have been congregating and ignoring COVID-19 safety precautions.

The problem has been brewing for weeks as booze-fueled crowds have become the norm in many places.

Over the weekend, videos posted on social media showed throngs of young people dancing and drinking in public, openly disregarding social distancing and mask rules. Hundreds of people were seen along Steinway St. in Astoria spilling into the street, sipping from plastic cups and taunting cops who tried in vain to enforce regulations.

New York does not have separate liquor licenses for bars and restaurants, which has led to some confusion as pubs and taverns began serving patrons alcohol in recent weeks after outdoor dining was once again allowed across the state. Cuomo attempted to clarify the state’s circumstances last week, mandating that alcohol can only be served to someone who has ordered food.

That led to some upstate bars crafting $1 menu items named for the governor.

“We never authorized bar operations,” Cuomo fumed on Tuesday. “By the words themselves, outdoor dining is not a bar operation. The word is dining. You don’t dine when you go to a restaurant to drink. That is drinking, and it would’ve been outside drinking that we authorized.”

In all, the state has suspended 27 liquor licenses and brought 410 charges against eateries across New York.

“This is a dangerous situation, and the bad operators will make it worse for themselves and for the good operators,” Cuomo added.

Scott Wexler, the executive director of the Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association, agreed with the governor.

“NY’s restaurant and tavern industry knows that protecting the state’s success in combating coronavirus is the key to keeping their businesses afloat,” he said in a statement. “We support Governor Cuomo’s calls to enforce physical distancing and face covering protocols.

“Large gatherings at or near bars need to end. Bad actors need to be shut down immediately if they won’t comply with the rules,” he added.

Cuomo also announced that 10 more states have been added to the list of places that will require a 14-day quarantine. Anyone entering New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from a total of 31 states are now required to self-isolate for two weeks.

Only two people died from the virus in New York on Monday, a major milestone for the state after reporting nearly 800 deaths a day at the height of the pandemic back in April. More than 25,000 people have died due to COVID-19 in the state since the crisis began.