Bartender Lindsay Pacepours a beer for a customer June 22, 2020, at Shade Bar NYC in New York City.
(The Center Square) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced several new measures aimed at both protecting the state from a “man-made second wave” of COVID-19 cases as well as its keeping bars and restaurants in compliance with emergency orders.
Across the state, if you now want a drink, you’ll have to order food as well. In addition, walk-up service at bars is now prohibited as bar tops will be only for those patrons seated and socially distancing.
When the state offered its reopening guidelines for bars and restaurants, the idea was to allow outdoor dining and still prevent widespread exposures, Cuomo said.
“If you’re not eating a meal and you’re just drinking, then it’s just an outdoor bar and people are mingling and they’re not isolated at individual tables,” Cuomo said. “And that’s what we’re seeing.”
Cuomo also announced a separate policy for New York City establishments, which he said has been some of the more blatant violators of the reopening rules. Any Gotham bar or restaurant found violating the guidelines three times will have its liquor license revoked. Serious violations may still lead to an immediate closure.
The state will also make public the list of places found violating the rules.
The governor added he’s not the only one who finds the situation upsetting.
“We’re getting thousands of complaints, pictures, videos, et cetera,” he said. “This is a question of public health, and New Yorkers paid a dear price for COVID, and they are equally upset with these violations.”
The governor also said a final determination on whether New York City – the state’s only region currently not in stage four of the reopening plan – can enter the next stage will be made by late Friday afternoon.
Currently, the city is on pace to make it, but even if it is cleared, Cuomo said the city still will not be allowed to permit any indoor activity. Besides bars and restaurants, that would also preclude shopping malls and cultural attractions from opening.
The new rules come as the state, in concert with neighbors New Jersey and Connecticut, tries to buttress itself from seeing increases in COVID-19 caseloads like dozens of other states. Cuomo and his counterparts in those states have enacted a 14-day quarantine policy for those traveling from 22 states, and New York is requiring those individuals submit contact information upon their arrival at airports.
So far, that program has a 92 percent compliance rate, according to the governor.
While many experts said the country would experience a second wave of COVID-19 cases, Cuomo said it’s inexcusable to see what’s currently happening across the country.
“We learned these lessons months ago,” he said. “Remember, the first case was back in January. Here we are in July, and states still don’t have testing and contact tracing, and don’t have the PPE and don’t have the medical equipment.
“We had seven months to get ready, and many places in this country are just as unprepared as they were seven months ago. And that’s one of the things we’re worried about in New York is the virus coming from the states with the high infection rates.”