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COVID-19 violations at 37 bars, restaurants, Gov. Cuomo says

State officials are cracking down on local bars and restaurants amid violations of COVID-19 restrictions. Newsday's Steve Langford has more. Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost; Howard Schnapp

State authorities have issued summonses for violations at 37 bars and restaurants for failing to follow mandated measures aimed at controlling spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday.

A total of 84 establishments were found to be in violation of the regulations during compliance checks of nearly 1,080 businesses between Tuesday and Thursday, he said. The businesses face fines of up to $10,000 and can have their liquor licenses suspended immediately for "egregious" violations.

On Friday, Cuomo criticized local government and police for not doing enough to enforce the mandates.

“They are not enforcing it aggressively enough," he said. "The State Police and the SLA [State Liquor Authority] are not going to be enough. Local government: Step up and do your job. NYPD, do your job. Nassau County police, do your job. Suffolk County police, do your job."

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder responded in a statement Friday night.

"The Nassau County Police Department has been doing their job since 1925 with respect and dignity to protect and serve the residents of Nassau County. Since March our men and women in blue have been taking enormous risks to themselves and their families during the COVID pandemic to keep our residents safe. Over the past two months we have policed over 150 protests which were attended by over 35,000 people and provided a safe environment. We continue to do our job with the utmost professionalism and will continue to do so." 

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Suffolk police did not immediately comment. 

Cuomo said 37 summonses were handed out on Thursday night alone. Other summonses are being processed. This week, the State Liquor Authority also suspended the liquor licenses of 10 establishments in New York City and on Long Island, he said.

The one locally is the Secrets Gentleman's Club in Deer Park. That suspension and three others were previously announced this week. On Friday, Cuomo announced six more suspensions, in the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan.

During the crackdown, State Police and State Liquor Authority agents fanned out across New York City, Long Island and other areas mainly downstate to step up enforcement of social distancing, mask-wearing, crowd capacity and other measures.

Cuomo mentioned specific locations on Long Island, including Rockville Centre and Baldwin. In the city, he mentioned Astoria, Jackson Heights and the Lower East Side.

Since the start of the pandemic, authorities have leveled a total of 433 charges against establishments statewide and imposed 33 immediate suspensions, Cuomo said. He said a growing threat to New York’s progress in fighting the virus is young people out partying who are violating the mandates by gathering in large crowds and failing to wear masks.

"We are very proud of what New Yorkers did to flatten the curve of the virus, but we have to protect our progress because no one wants to do that again," Cuomo said. "That's why we're watching the bar and restaurant violations and the congregations in front of these establishments, as we believe it's connected to the increased infection rate with young people."

On Thursday, he said the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is rising among people in their 20s, even as it falls or remains stable in other age groups. For people ages 21 to 30, the infection level went from 9.9% to 13.2% positive over the last two weeks, he said.

That compares to a statewide average that has hovered around 1% or slightly higher.

Encouraging indicators

Coronavirus indicators remained good in New York, with 753 people found to be positive for COVID-19 out of 76,507 tested Thursday, for a 0.9% positive level, according to state data.

The level on Long Island was 0.9% and in New York City 1.1%

The total number of new confirmed cases of coronavirus was 44 in Nassau, 58 in Suffolk and 360 in New York City.

Some 650 people were hospitalized with the virus, the lowest level since March 18, Cuomo said. Nine people died Thursday of coronavirus-related causes.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said the county continues to make progress in controlling the virus.

“Nassau County hospital systems are treating their lowest number of COVID-19 patients, 36, since the peak in mid-April," she said in a statement. And, she said, more than 99% of new viral tests are coming back COVID-19 free, what she called "a positive trend."

Other developments

During a Newsday webinar Friday, experts said health and safety considerations should come first when considering whether students with special needs should return to the classroom this fall. The panelists said remote learning has been a challenge for many special education students and parents since services and therapies moved online after schools closed in mid-March.

Robert Dillon, superintendent of Nassau BOCES, said the agency has ordered personal protective equipment and other items to carry out a safe school day that would start on a sanitized school bus where the drivers and matrons would wear masks. Students would eat lunch in their classrooms, and social distancing would be put in place.

“Our commitment to our staff is that we will provide everything necessary for you to carry out the functions of your job,” Dillon said.

Some Long Island school districts have been providing in-classroom special education to students after Cuomo signed an order in June allowing it.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that while some people may be leaving the city because of the pandemic, he thinks they will return and make it stronger than ever.

"It is true some people may, for the short term, decide that they would prefer to live elsewhere, but I think what you're going to see is quickly as we come back, many, many people will sense opportunity," he said at his daily virtual news briefing.

With Matthew Chayes and Joie Tyrrell

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