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NYC Bar, Restaurant Owners Say It's Unfair To Make Them Enforce Social Distancing, Mask Wearing: 'I Got Into The Business Of Hospitality'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Friday marked the first full day of new regulations for bars and restaurants in New York.

They must now require customers to social distance, wear masks and purchase food with alcohol, but some of those new rules were quickly broken in Astoria, CBS2's Cory James reports.

Fireworks were shot in the air as a crowd of people gathered in front of bars in Astoria.

This happened just hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo implemented the "Three Strikes, You're Closed" policy Thursday for bars and restaurants violating COVID-19 restrictions.

"It looked like South Beach Miami. We see how the numbers went out there," Aluta Khanyile, of the Bronx, said.

John Zorbas is worried about citations for large crowds gathering outside his bar, BRIK Bar.

"I've got some calls from the state liquor authority, the police coming by," Zorbas said.

He says having to enforce social distancing and mask wearing is unfair for owners.

"I got into the business of hospitality," he said. "We can't really control what people are doing here, people are doing a couple stores down."

Ramon Bavillo, who owns a restaurant across the street, agrees and feels law enforcement needs to step in.

"The police don't do nothing," he said. "And it's not fair for the business to have to pay for something the people are doing."

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Cuomo says the executive order was issued after an investigation into over 5,000 establishments in downstate New York showed there were many cases where restaurants and bars failed to comply with social distancing orders.

It's why he is also requiring food to go with the sale of alcohol.

But an upstate New York pub selling potato chips for $1, calling them "Cuomo Chips," has the owner of a hookah bar in the city questioning the rules.

"We can do that, but it's not really considered as a food," she said. "Food is really like chicken or a burger or stuff like that."

It's leaving some with mixed feelings about who should be responsible under the new policy involving social distancing and crowds.

"I think it's better ... for businesses to do regulations," Khanyile said.

"I think it's up to the personal responsbility of the individual," another man said.

People in Astoria say there are crowds outside bars and restaurants from midnight until 5 a.m.

Cuomo says he understands there is tension between communities and local police departments, but he's calling on law enforcement to enforce the businesses to be in compliance with the new law.

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