All restaurants and bars in New York could potentially be forced to close again after mass gatherings of non-socially distanced patrons amid the COVID-19 pandemic were reported over the weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is warning.
If crowds continue congregating pandemic, failing to socially distance or wear face coverings, "the bad restaurant and bar owners are going to make it worse for the good ones," Cuomo said.
"We did the impossible as New Yorkers - we stepped up and conquered the COVID-19 virus and now we have to protect the progress that we have made," Cuomo said.
"One of the main threats to our progress is the number of congregations that we're seeing across the state, but especially in downstate, primarily of young people, and we saw it again over the weekend."
Cuomo said that local governments have to more aggressively enforce state laws prohibiting congregations of so many people.
"The local governments are not doing their job," he said. "We cannot allow those congregations to continue. If it happens, I'll tell you what's going to happen. We're going to have to roll back the opening plan. And we're going to have to close bars and restaurants.
“It is a problem, and I'm telling you in plain New York speak that it's stupid and it has to stop.
“This not just morality, these restaurants and bars are breaking the law and they are going to make it bad for everyone else because if this continues we're going to have to roll back the reopening plan and close all bars and restaurants.”
Last week, Cuomo took steps to try and curtail the number of people at bars at any one time by requiring them to serve food if alcohol is purchased, prompting some restaurants to offer chips or other snacks for $1.
- Earlier story - COVID-19: Restaurant Adds $1 'Cuomo Chips' To Menu After NY Order Banning Buying Alcohol Only
"Our goal now is to stay there and not let the infection rate tick up," Cuomo said. "We're not in a static environment.”
"Many of these congregations tend to be young people. Young people tend to think they are superheroes. You’re not a superhero. But you could become a super-spreader," he added.
"You can get sick in your 20s, you can die in your 20s. I'm telling you it has to stop. It's stupid, what you are doing. Don't be stupid. What they are doing it stupid and reckless.”
Cuomo said police departments are not doing their job in enforcing social distancing measures.
" I've said repeatedly that the local governments are in charge of compliance and enforcement," he said. "If young people are going to come out and do something stupid, the local governments have to enforce the law. That's how it works in life.
"And the police department has to enforce the law. And they are not doing it. And that is their job and they have to do it."
Statewide, 5,115,470 New Yorkers have been tested for COVID-19, resulting in 406,807 positive cases. There have been 25,048 COVID-19 fatalities since the outbreak began in mid-March.
In the past 24 hours, the number of COVID-19 patients in New York hospitals dropped to 716, the lowest number since mid-March. Nearly 50,000 COVID-19 were administered throughout the state, with 519 (1.05 percent) testing positive for the virus.
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