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Cuomo Threatens to Shut Down Bars and Restaurants If They Don't Adhere to Restrictions

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Cuomo Threatens to Shut Down Bars and Restaurants If They Don't Adhere to Restrictions

2020-07-17 11:20:53

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Andrew Cuomo (Image source: Screenshot)

After being shut down for much of the year, bars and restaurants in New York City have finally been allowed to open. New Yorkers can finally let loose, have a beer, and get some dinner. But it may be a short-lived freedom. Now that they can do these things again, they're having too much fun to follow the rules. That has made Gov. Andrew Cuomo threaten to close it all down again.

The governor said there was "significant evidence" that restaurants in New York City were violating social distancing policies that have been set to keep everyone safe with the novel coronavirus still so present. If they can't follow the rules, they will have to shut down again.

"There is significant evidence of failure to comply," especially for establishments in New York City, Cuomo told reporters on a conference call on Thursday. "It's wrong. It's dangerous. It's selfish. It's unacceptable."

He then issued a warning that he will close down restaurants after three violations of the restrictions. Those who are more egregious in their violations could face immediate closure and could even lose their liquor license. Bars and restaurants didn't have much time to adjust for this, as the mandate started on Thursday.

"Three violations and you're closed. We're also going to post the names of the establishments facing disciplinary charges," warned Cuomo.

This comes just a few days before the phase four reopening is due to begin on Monday. This will allow malls and cultural institutions to reopen. However, indoor operations will remain closed, explained Cuomo.

He was asked about The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It announced on Wednesday that it would reopen its doors in late August.

Cuomo had no explanations and just said, "Nobody knows," following it with, "I think they can plan to reopen, and then we'll see what the facts say."

"We are still seeing issues, not just in bars and restaurants, but all across the country," Cuomo stressed. "You see this inside interior spaces, air-conditioned spaces where the virus is tending to spread. So we're going to take that precaution in New York City."

The governor feels he needs to enforce the rules handed out, as the state is preparing for a second wave of positive coronavirus cases because of the surges in the virus in the South and Southwest.

"Our numbers are good, but ... what we're dealing with is the potential of a 'second wave" from these other states," explained Cuomo. "New Yorkers paid a dear price for COVID, and they are equally upset with these violations."

Because New York was seen as the epicenter of the virus, the citizens have already been through a lot. They've seen their friends and family get sick, they've seen the refrigerated trucks parked outside hospitals, knowing they were filled with bodies. They've been locked up for months.

And now they may have to go through this all over again because of the states that didn't set such strict rules and are now seeing even bigger surges than they did initially.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner was also on the phone call and doubled down on Cuomo's comments. He said Houston is "facing a situation where our numbers have surged. More people are testing positive, showing up in our hospitals and our ICUs."

Perhaps because New York has already gone through the stress of being the epicenter, it lent its experience to the Houston area. Teams were sent to set up testing sites and partner with local churches to deliver hand sanitizer, PPE, and testing kits, said Cuomo.

He expressed disdain, though, for "some states" that are overriding local mask mandates. On Wednesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp threw out mask mandates that were adopted by at least 15 local Georgia governments.

"We're still playing politics with this COVID virus after all of this, which is shocking and disturbing," he said.

Because of the other surging states, New York state has imposed a travel advisory on 22 of them, as they don't want to go back to the point they have been fighting so hard to leave behind. Travelers from those states are required to quarantine for 14 days after arriving in New York.

Cuomo said there has been a 92 percent compliance rate of visitors completing the forms and disclosing their travel plants at airports. Yet, he noted that doesn't mean they have been compliant with the quarantine.

"We don't follow up with everyone because the numbers are too high, but we do random checks pursuant to that form," said Cuomo. "It's like any other law, right? You can speed, yeah, but if you get caught, you get the ticket." 

If there is one thing that rang consistent in Cuomo's remarks throughout, it's that he is being steadfast in making sure New York state and New York City don't end up right back where they were.

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