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Gov. Andrew Cuomo Introduces 'Three Strikes, You're Closed' Policy For Bars, Restaurants That Violate COVID-19 Restrictions

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed tougher restrictions on bars and restaurants that violate mask-wearing and social distancing orders.

The new measure involves a "three strikes, you're closed" rule.

Drinking in front of restaurants and bars is no longer on the menu.

"It kind of sucks," one customer said.

Cuomo's new policy requires owners to enforce mask wearing and make people stand at least six feet apart.

It also shuts down walk-up bars where customers can order to-go drinks without purchasing food.

"When we send someone off with a froze or a glass of wine, they're enjoying it responsibly," Mandy Oser, of Ardesia Wine Bar, said, "so to have to say, 'alright, now you have to spend $5 more for a food item' is going to feel a little bit odd."


It's frustrating for Ted Arenas at Rise Bar. He is two strikes away from closing after he says a homeless person allegedly walked up to a customer and asked for change without a mask.

Arenas believes the state is hurting businesses that are just trying to survive the pandemic.

"I feel like instead of coming and attacking the businesses that are already being kicked while we're down, why don't they go out and start ticketing the people on the streets that are breaking the laws ... people that are drinking illegally on the street," he told CBS2's Cory James.

Andrew Rigie with the NYC Hospitality Alliance agrees.

He works with nearly 3,000 restaurants and bars that are taking the news hard.

"Small business owners now are literally crying to me on the phone. They've almost had it. They're about to toss their keys in because they are losing not only their business but their livelihood," Rigie said.

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The state has looked at over 5,000 establishments in downstate New York and found many cases of a failure to comply.

One of those places is White Horse Tavern in the West Village.

The New York State Liquor Authority says the bar had at least 30 violations, which is why its liquor license was suspended.

"This bar had been crazy ... There was no distancing, very few masks," West Village resident Hugh Surratt said. "But anything to try to keep everything under control because, you know, we're not out of the woods on this."

That is what the governor says his latest change is designed to do -- help New York continue its progress as many other states fall back in phases and reopening.

He's calling on local governments to enforce the law.

"The compliance enforcement of these rules and regulations is essential. If we do not enforce compliance, the virus will spread," Cuomo said.

Cuomo is expected to release specific details regarding Phase 4 of reopening Friday. He says they're still going over some of the numbers to determine what changes will exactly be made.

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