Only 23 deaths from COVID-19 were reported in New York state on Saturday, but Governor Andrew Cuomo says his efforts remain focused on pacing the reopening of regions with the infection rates and preventing a second deadly spike.
Unlike 21 other states in the union, Cuomo touted the Empire State going from the “epicenter of the epicenter” of COVID-19 to leading the country in decreasing the spread and reopening in accordance with the figures tracked by the government.
Cuomo took the time in his Sunday press conference to address a new epidemic: disregard for wearing masks as hundreds flock to bars and restaurants but occupy street and sidewalk space. Again, Cuomo said state liquor licenses could be revoked with inspectors on the prowl and regions where governments are not enforcing measures could be subject to close again.
The East Village over the weekend was an example used by many over social media for crowds of people enjoying a bit of nightlife with masks being less common than other instances of gatherings such as the George Floyd protests.
“This is a question of violating the law and this is a very serious situation and I hope everyone knows there will be consequences,” Cuomo said.
The cost of obtaining a liquor license in New York is the third highest in the nation at an average of $4,300 per year. California at $13,800 and Tennessee at $5,000 annually are the only two in the nation to exceed the amount required by New York to sell liquor.
Manhattan was not the only example used by Cuomo to describe a violation of New York’s mask requirements; he mentioned the Hamptons by name and other Twitter users spotted crowds outside of bars in parts of Brooklyn and Queens as well. Large gatherings are still restricted to ten people throughout, especially in the city which is still only in the first phase of reopening.
“If we increase the spread of the virus in Manhattan because of bars and restaurants, then everyone is going to suffer and that’s not fair. Local government, do your job. If we have to close, then people are going to hold you accountable. Bars and restaurants, do your job; if you could have [State Liquor Authority] violation and possibly lose your license,” Cuomo said. “You look at all the other states, it’s not hard to figure out what is happening here. It’s happened to half the state’s in the nation, so far we have been the exception and we’re not going to go back to that dark place because local government did not do its job.”
New Rochelle was the first cluster in the state and stemmed from a large gathering, Cuomo pointed out.
City Hall did not immediately respond to a request for comment when reached out to by amNewYork Metro.
This story first appeared on amny.com.