De Blasio and Cuomo agree: Bars and restaurants to close if overcrowding continues

Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday threatened to shut down bars and restaurants if New Yorkers continue to revel outside in large crowds, violating social distancing regulations.

Since early June, videos and photos of unmasked, pandemic-fatigued, drink-holding New Yorkers standing close together en masse on sidewalks and streets have been blasted across social media. But de Blasio’s warning was said in response to overcrowding that has taken place on Astoria’s Steinway Street for the past week.

“I just want to make this clear: When we agreed to allow this part of our life to come back, it was not meant to be business as usual,” de Blasio told reporters. “No one wants to shut down bars and restaurants, but if they do not cooperate in our efforts to contain the coronavirus, they will be shut down.”

On Sunday, the New York City Sheriff’s Office issued a cease-and-desist order to Brik Astoria where the partying occurred. The lounge has since been suspended from New York City’s outdoor dining program until it can present the with a new plan on how to keep patrons socially distant, Gothamist reported. 

Brik Astoria became the first restaurant to have its outdoor dining privileges stripped.

In order to mitigate overcrowding, streets like Steinway will see “heavier enforcement efforts” from the city’s 150 sheriff office officers, de Blasio said, and NYPD officers if need be. On Monday night, the Sheriff’s office plans to have 30 officers handing out face coverings and taking part in foot and car patrol on Steinway.

De Blasio’s comments came minutes after Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened to roll back bars and restaurant openings if congregations continued. Monday marked the city’s entry into phase four of the state’s reopening plan which allows for most outdoor cultural venues like botanical gardens and zoos to open for outdoor activity at 33 percent capacity.

This story originally appeared on amny.com

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