Residents in Astoria are saying no more to a number of bars and partygoers who have crowded Steinway Street for the last three weeks with total disregard of mask requirements or social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Claiming there are specific establishments allowing the situation to spin out of control, Councilman Costa Constantinides and the community at large are calling the state and city government to step up in a series of demands. The incidents have been happening along Steinway Street — which has taken on a new moniker, “Steiami,” due to the careless hedonists that have gathered there in recent weeks.
“Enough is enough. For the past three weeks, we have seen a select few bars think they can flaunt every rule in the book while the city agencies tasked with enforcing them sit idly by,” said Constantinides, a survivor of COVID-19. “The city has categorically failed our neighborhood. A slew of COVID-19 regulations and measures were set up only for the multi-agency task force created to enforce them remain silent [sic].”
A petition went online as well laying out a clear set of demands such as the State Liquor Authority making good on a warning from Governor Andrew Cuomo in mid-June. They also called for a 10 p.m. curfew on all businesses on Steinway to discourage crowding, fine businesses and individuals for noise violations as well as giving the 114th Precinct support to “reclaim” streets.”
Videos posted to Twitter, however, show no shortage of police presence.
While 476 people have signed on to the 500 signature petition, the city did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last night was an embarrassment.
I have told the Mayor’s Office that what we saw last night cannot happen again. The agencies tasked with enforcing rules must actually be out there.
Tonight I expect them to be. pic.twitter.com/RQvwrHRctC
— Costa Constantinides (@Costa4NY) July 18, 2020
It would not be the first time that bars have come out of coronavirus hibernation since reopening in the city began.
East Village establishments began pouring for people in an outdoor setting deemed legal under phase two in June, but residents lashed out against the maskless crowds and reached the attention of Cuomo.
His response? Start taking away the businesses’ liquor licenses, which cost them about $4,300 per year, if they fail to control the environment where they are serving.
— Michelle (@Michell99746417) July 17, 2020
New regulations put in place over the weekend require patrons to be dining in order to drink as Cuomo noted that there have been compliance issues in the city concerning food and beverage businesses. With phase four slated to begin July 20, these new restrictions would be put into place, as amNewYork Metro has reported.
Businesses that are flagged for three violations could be closed down by the state, and each infraction would be posted online.
“We’re waiting to hear back from the city and state on a full report on its response Saturday night,” Constantinides added. “My hope is agencies will continue to be out, making sure the few bad actors are held accountable and patrons take proper precautions. We do not want those who have followed the rules to bear the burden brought about by those who’ve decided to completely flaunt every single law.”
This story first appeared on amny.com.