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Home Coronavirus Finally, Someone Says It! Drinking in Public during a COVID-19 Crisis Is a Concern

Finally, Someone Says It! Drinking in Public during a COVID-19 Crisis Is a Concern

Governor Aide Melissa Derosa Says That Which so Many Haven’t Said: Drinking In Public In the Days of COVID-19 Can Be a Concern

Governor Cuomo today found himself actually having to qualify the rationale behind using the State Liquor Authority and the NY State Police to enforce COVID-19 compliance at and around bars and restaurants.

It was during his press tele-conference that the subject was raised in the form of a question by a member of the press. That is, the reasoning behind the recent strong enforcement, violations issued and liquor license suspensions despite the state’s stellar health metrics.

What placed a smile on our faces was someone finally acknowledging that which we’ve felt to be a foregone conclusion, yet something which not many had admitted verbally – which is, Drinking Alcohol Makes You Forget Yourself!

Amongst the numerous questions on my list for the Governor was one – asking him to admit that ‘intoxication’ is at the core of our problems whereas these establishments are concerned.

Interestingly, it wasn’t the Governor but his top aide, Melissa Derosa, who would chime in today with the jackpot answer.

Transcript to Melissa Derosa’s words can be found near the bottom of this page.

Although, I’ve got to admit that NYC Mayor de Blasio stated as much at the end of May. It was at the time that the NYC Council was trying to push through outdoor dining. I’d approached him with my question about folks forgetting themselves when drinking. His answer, predictably, revolved around ‘trust’ and restaurants and bars’ concerns for the overall public interest.

Problem is, many establishments have received violations and suspensions of their liquor licenses – all due to the Governor’s approach through his combined task force of State Liquor Authority Investigators and NY State Police.

What bugs yours truly most is the fact that not enough attention is being paid to this subject. Let’s not pussy-foot around pretending that it’s just a matter of folks’ congregating near liquor-serving establishments. No, it’s a matter of being intoxicated and forgetting to put one’s mask back on or forgetting to keep one’s distance, plain and simple.

I suggest the Governor and Mayor consider a public service announcement with all of this in mind. We’ve got them to keep folks from drinking while driving, right? Then how about drinking while COVID-19 is still around? That just might make their loved ones step in and help them to accomplish that which our Mayor so fondly likes to refer to as “Doing the Right Thing!”

On May 29, I asked the Mayor:

“My question concerns the push for restaurant outdoor dining by the City Council and how your own team is examining the possibilities of thereof. Considering how we have no perfect clue as to what a phase three scenario would look like and what sort of social distancing rules would still be in place, I’d like to ask about those restaurants with alcohol licenses, and I guess bars. Mr. Mayor, you’ve often spoken of New Yorkers doing the right thing, yet even when one [inaudible] intoxicated, it’s kind of hard to do the right thing. Are there any concerns about people individually and collectively forgetting themselves and doing that, which may defeat the ultimate aim of public safety?”

Mayor de Blasio:

“Of course. Now, Luis, you’re – you know, every-day New Yorkers and everyday humans. Of course, if people are under the influence, they’re going to think differently. And you know, look, I’m the guy who said we had to shut down our restaurants and bars back in March, because it was clear that we needed to do something different. And, obviously, we know, particularly in bars, there’s not only a space issue, there is the fact that if people under the influence are not going to follow rules as well. But I’ve got to tell you, I think having talked to a lot of people in restaurant and bar industry, folks want to come back, they want to come back responsibly. They understand it’s a different reality. And everyone talks from the perspective of understanding there has to be social distancing. And, you know, one of the things I’ve heard from a lot of the restaurant bar owners is that there’s a conundrum for them because they want to bring back this part of New York City we all cherish and yet they also are concerned it has to be an atmosphere people want to be a part of – that if it feels too artificial and feels too difficult, you know, people are not going to feel comfortable. So, it’s a really tough balance. But what we know for sure is we’ve got to get this industry back, we’ve got to do it with social distancing for the foreseeable future. We’ve got to come up with smart standards. Restaurants I think have an easier situation than bars in, we’re going to have to figure that out and the outdoor piece is very, very appealing and I feel good that we’ll be able to find some solutions there. But it’s also going to require the restaurant owners and the bar owners to be really vigilant that their patrons follow the rules. And if not, we’re going to do enforcement. And I think everyone’s gotten the point about that and that’s why we see very, very little noncompliance. The vast majority of restaurant and bar owners throughout this whole process, the ones that have stayed open in various ways, everyone’s been doing the right thing almost to a one. But enforcement helps to remind people, so it’ll be there.”

Melissa Derosa’s words today:

“Just to echo what the Governor was saying, obviously part of this is you look around the country and you see where things are problematic and we’ve had many conversations with mayors all across the south including one yesterday in Florida who said, that where their problem started was outdoor graduation parties where you had clusters of 40, 50 kids all together drinking – and obviously what happens is – obviously when people are drinking then they let their guard down, they are incognizant of social distancing, you get closer and that’s what you’re seeing with these big clumps of people. So we can’t stick our heads in the sand and ignore the lessons from around the country – that we’re seeing that’s causing these different infection spikes to go up – we can’t let our guard down. Nobody wants to go back to mass graves at Hart Island or overrun hospitals. So we’re being smart, we’re looking at what’s going on around the country – and it’s not true to say that just because you’re outside you can’t get Coronavirus – and so we’re learning from what’s happening around the country and around the world and we’re making adjustments accordingly to be smart going forward so that we don’t erode any of the progress that we’ve gained.:

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