At Bachata on Fulton Avenue in Hempstead, police and investigators found 71 customers...

At Bachata on Fulton Avenue in Hempstead, police and investigators found 71 customers packed inside on Nov. 6, well above its capacity limit of 44, the state said.   Credit: Howard Schnapp

The state has suspended the liquor licenses of five more Long Island bars and restaurants for overcrowding and failing to follow rules aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, officials announced Tuesday.

"If we let our guard down and ignore basic public health rules, this winter could be one of the darkest periods of this pandemic, and we simply cannot let that happen," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement Tuesday.

The five establishments, four cited in November and one in late October, include one nightclub in Nassau and four bar/restaurants in Suffolk.

They are Bachata on Fulton Avenue in Hempstead, Rockwell’s Bar & Grill on Terry Road in Smithtown, Station Pub on Lakeland Avenue in Sayville, Best Pizza & Dive Bar on Montauk Highway in Amagansett and Buen Ambiente on East Main Street in East Patchogue.

At Buen Ambiente, where a shooting took place on Oct. 24, video surveillance obtained by police showed a large event with more than 50 patrons standing shoulder-to-shoulder, according to the state, drinking, dancing and smoking hookah, with two exotic dancers performing lap dances. Two men were shot in the leg outside the bar, and police arrested and charged a 23-year-old Central Islip man with assault.

Buen Ambiente owner Henry Tiburcio said his bar was hosting a birthday party that night.

"That day, I was super strict. It just got out of control. People at the door were just letting people in without my authorization," Tiburcio said in an interview Tuesday. "When there [were] too many people in there, I shut it down."

But people didn’t cooperate, Tiburcio said, and some went outside and started fighting, which led to the shooting.

"I do follow the rules. I always try to avoid problems," he said. "I like to be on top [of things]. But it is what it is."

In Bachata, police and investigators found 71 customers packed inside on Nov. 6, well above its 44 capacity limit, the state said, and three employees were seen working without face coverings.

Representatives with the Smithtown restaurant and Sayville pub declined to comment. The other two businesses did not respond to calls Tuesday.

In the case of Station Pub, officials said the owner, whom they didn’t identify, refused to wear a face mask, became belligerent with investigators and failed to show his license or identification.

State investigators and police said they saw patrons at Rockwell’s Bar & Grill and Best Pizza & Dive Bar without facial coverings and ignoring social-distancing rules.

The five Long Island businesses were part of a total of 279 statewide that have had their liquor licenses suspended since March over COVID-19 violations, the state said. Some have been reinstated after paying fines.

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