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Cuomo: 3 LI restaurants' liquor licenses suspended over virus violations

An event at an

An event at an "unlicensed outdoor area" of the Pine Grove Inn in East Patchogue on Oct. 2 drew between 200 and 300 people, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said. The Pine Grove Inn is shown in July 2017. Credit: Daniel Brennan

State officials suspended the liquor license of three places on Long Island, including an East Patchogue restaurant after it hosted an event that attracted up to 300 people, while "multiple people" who attended a wedding last weekend in Cutchogue have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Friday.

Suffolk County officials did not say precisely how many people from the wedding at the North Fork Country Club tested positive.

Grace Kelly-McGovern, a Suffolk Department of Health Services spokeswoman, said wedding attendees were encouraged to self-quarantine. The county’s investigation was ongoing, she said, and no other information was available.

Club representatives could not be reached Friday.

At the same time, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the state had made substantial progress in bringing down COVID-19 infection levels in "hot spots" in Brooklyn, Queens, Orange and Rockland counties, with the level dropping to 2.31% in testing completed Thursday. That was down from 3.2% the previous day and a high of 6.9% before Cuomo instituted new restrictions in the red zones Oct. 6.

The Oct. 2 event at an "unlicensed outdoor area" of the Pine Grove Inn in East Patchogue drew between 200 and 300 people, most ignoring social distancing rules and walking around with open containers, the governor said.

The restaurant’s owner and several members of the waitstaff also did not wear facial coverings, he said.

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Suffolk County police responded to the site after receiving multiple 911 calls about social distancing violations, reckless driving and vehicles blocking driveways.

The owner of the Pine Grove Inn declined to comment Friday.

The Inn was among 21 restaurants and bars whose liquor licenses were recently suspended, Cuomo said. Two are in Nassau County, and three are in "hot spots" where the state has imposed extra restrictions because of high levels of COVID-19 infection.

State officials also suspended the liquor licenses of Leonard's of Great Neck and D'Ambiance in Baldwin.

While compliance in general is improving, "a small number of business owners still don't think the rules apply to them," Cuomo said.

At Leonard's, located at 555 Northern Blvd., officials discovered the business was hosting a wedding on Sept. 25 with between 100 and 120 guests — "at least double the 50-person limit in nonessential gatherings," Cuomo said.

Officials had issued warnings to the restaurant two weeks earlier, he said. The owner of Leonard's could not be reached for comment.

At D'Ambiance, located at 1177 Grand Ave. in Baldwin, inspectors on Oct. 1 "found six patrons standing and drinking at the bar without facial coverings, with no evidence of food being served," Cuomo said.

A man who identified himself as Mike and said he was the manager of D’Ambiance said Friday that patrons were checked at the door to make sure they wore a mask, and that once inside they took it off when they ate or drank. The restaurant serves Jamaican food, he said.

Cuomo said Nassau County police also reported that on Sept. 27 an altercation that began inside the bar resulted in a female being shot outside the premises after security pushed those involved outside. Nassau police said no one from the bar reported the incident.

Police responded to the scene later that night and saw more than 30 patrons inside the business, even though it has a maximum occupancy of less than 25 under COVID-related regulations.

The patrons were standing and drinking without facial coverings, "with no evidence of food being served," Cuomo said.

The manager said his bartender called police, and that people crowded into the bar because they were afraid to be outside after the shooting. Amid the "chaotic" scene, it was hard to enforce a mask requirement, he said.

Meanwhile, Cuomo said the drop in infection levels in the red zones was a promising sign.

The infection level statewide was 0.98% in testing completed Thursday and excluding the hot spots. It was 1.15% including the hot spots, which are oversampled, Cuomo said.

The level on Long Island was 1.1% and in New York City 1.0%. The number of new confirmed cases was 101 in Nassau County, 91 in Suffolk County and 571 in New York City.

Eleven people died of causes linked to COVID-19 across the state Thursday.

Cuomo also announced that eight companies, including two on Long Island, will receive funding totaling $4.9 million to start producing COVID-19-related equipment as the state braces for a second wave of infections.

D'Addario and Co. in Farmingdale will receive $341,000 to manufacture 1.2 million face shields. The company normally produces musical instruments and accessories.

Hansen Industries Inc. in St. James, an air conditioner manufacturer, will receive $800,000 to produce 2 million surgical masks in about six months.

Meanwhile, Riverhead public schools were closed Friday for in-person instruction after several transportation employees tested positive for COVID-19, officials said.

In Roosevelt, Centennial Elementary School was closed Thursday and Friday for in-person learning after a staff member tested positive for the virus, officials said.

With Catherine Carrera, Matthew Chayes, Antonio Planas and John Valenti

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