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New York Suspends Liquor Licenses At 4 Area Establishments Due In Part To Failure To Enforce Social Distancing Rules

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo has brought the hammer down on some bars and restaurants in violation of social distancing rules.

He announced Tuesday that the State Liquor Authority has suspended licenses at four establishments in Queens and Long Island.

The governor said he understands that bars, like Brik in Astoria, are under a lot of economic pressure, but said outdoor drinking in the age of COVID-19 has become a significant problem, CBS2's Andrea Grymes reported.

MOREAstoria Restaurant Temporarily Closed Over Social Distancing Violations; Gov. Cuomo Could Scale Back Reopening

The party appears to be over for now at M.I.A., thanks to the SLA.

The State Liquor Authority yanked the liquor license at the restaurant and lounge on 21st Street in Astoria, in part for not enforcing social distancing outside.

"If they're not being responsible, themselves, for maintaining the social distancing and the peace of the neighborhood, then someone needs to take care of it," resident Rob Brown said.


It was welcome news for some in the area, but not for others on nearby Steinway Street. Brik's liquor license was also suspended for similar reasons, but the establishment remains open for takeout food.

"It's not fair to the business owners. They pay rent. They try to make a living and to survive. How are these guys gonna survive? They can't survive," one resident said.

"People need somewhere to go. People are tired of being cooped up in their house," Manny Vippis added.

A fed-up Cuomo announced Tuesday the state suspended the liquor licenses at the two spots in Astoria, plus Maspeth Pizza in Maspeth and Secrets Gentlemen's Club in Deer Park, Long Island.

This comes after video showed huge crowds over the weekend on Steinway Street, in addition to weeks of complaints from elected officials and others across the city about outdoor drinking.

"We never authorized bars to reopen," Cuomo said.

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The state initially allowed bars and restaurants to sell drinks to-go, since they were shut down because of COVID-19, but many complained some streets were becoming rowdy block parties, with hardly any social distancing or mask wearing.

Others countered, if outdoor protests and outdoor dining is allowed, outdoor drinking should be, too.

"When you are dining, you are at a table. You're not getting up and going table to table," Cuomo said. "Bars, drinking, are totally different. It's just a large congregation of people walking around standing around with a beverage, but it's just a group of people. That was never allowed."

No one at any of the four established mentioned were available for comment, Last week, the governor also announced that bars and restaurants must only serve alcohol to poeple who order and eat food.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is ready to step up enforcement.

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