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NY Governor Cuomo: We Never Authorized Bars to Reopen

NY Governor Cuomo: We Never Authorized Bars to Reopen

4 Establishments have now lost their liquor licenses

Today, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo held a press briefing during which he continued his days’ long talk about the outdoor dining and how some establishments with liquor licenses have taken advantage of the Outdoor Dining regulations.

For days the Governor’s spoken out on this subject – how there are folks walking or congregating along the streets of New York City whilst imbibing alcohol. I think the one main concern at the core of his thinking revolves around intoxication. One drink often turns into another and yet another. With every sip one forgets oneself and loses sight of that which helps to protect us all: Social Distancing and Facial Coverings.

To drink one needs to remove one’s mask. As Mr. Cuomo’s repeatedly pointed out, there are plenty of photos and videos on social media showing folks walking about or gathering with open containers of alcohol without any masks on and in close proximity to one another.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I asked Mayor de Blasio about this very subject at the end of May as Open Dining was being proposed by the City Council. I expressed my concerns about people not doing that which is in the interest of others when drinking. The Mayor responded by expressing his own trust in establishments.

Yet, here we are today with the Governor having to repeat himself, again and again, and the Mayor finally behaving and reacting with the supposed seriousness such a problem is due.

Below is the transcript of his briefing, as it pertains to public imbibing of alcohol during the COVID-19 Crisis. Farther below is the actual related audio.

Governor Cuomo:

“We never authorized bars to reopen. Most states have not allowed bars to operate. New Jersey doesn’t allow bars to operate. Bars are congregations of people milling about and that is exactly what we’re trying to avoid. So we never authorized bar operations.

In this state, we don’t have a separate bar and restaurant license. It’s one license – bar and restaurant. Other states have separate licenses – One license for a bar, one license for a restaurant. In those states they just didn’t allow licensed bars to open. We don’t have that ease of operation here because we have a single license for a bar or restaurant.

We said outdoor dining was allowed and we facilitated outdoor dining to help restaurant. Outdoor dining is not to operate a bar. By the words themselves, outdoor dining is not a bar operation. The word is dining. You don’t dine when you go to a restaurant to drink – that is drinking – and it would’ve been outside drinking that we authorized. We didn’t authorize outside drinking. We authorized outdoor dining.

Now, I understand bars are under terrific economic pressure as are many other organizations – and they took this outdoor dining as an opportunity to do outdoor drinking but that’s not what the regulations intended, right? – and this is now a significant problem and local governments have not been doing the enforcement. The state is not the primary enforcer of these laws – the local governments are – and I’ve been asking them for weeks to step up to do their job.

The state is taking action and we said that we would take action on our own to the extent our resources allow us. State Liquor Authority only has like 30 investigators for the state. They only have like 12 investigators for downstate New York. So, they cannot do this without the local police departments but we are quite serious about it.

The SLA (State Liquor Authority) has suspended liquor licenses for four bars and restaurants – three in Queens and one in Suffolk. The Brik Bar in Astoria is going to have their license suspended. A bar called M.I.A. (M.I.A. Restaurant Lounge) in Astoria is going to have their license suspended. Maspeth Pizza in Maspeth and the Secrets Gentlemans Club in Deer Park in Long Island will all have their licenses suspended.

That is a very serious situation – means they can’t operate – I’m sorry it’s come to this, but it’s a dangerous situation and I’ve said it many, many times. The State Liquor Authority has suspended 27 licenses which is a very high rate of suspension but this is a very dangerous situation. They’ve brought 410 charges against establishments.

The bad operators will make it worse for themselves and the good operators and I’ve spoken to many bar and restaurant owners who are doing the right and thing and playing by the rules and it’s unfortunate that the good get penalized for the actions of the bad.”

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