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COVID-19: State Suspends Long Island Country Club's Liquor License After Hosting Super Spreader

North Fork Country Club in Cutchogue.
North Fork Country Club in Cutchogue. Photo Credit: Google Maps street view

A country club has had its liquor license suspended after hosting what New York State authorities described as a COVID-19 "super-spreader event."

A wedding attended by 113 guests was held on Long Island at the North Fork Country Club, located in Cutchogue in Suffolk County, on Saturday, Oct. 17, violating pandemic-related gathering restrictions. 

The number of guests was more than double the number allowed under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive orders - and led to at least 34 COVID-19 infections. 

As a result, 159 individuals were quarantined and several schools were temporarily closed to in-person learning, the state said.

"As we have seen in weddings and similar events across the country during this pandemic," Cuomo said, "large gatherings can easily be super-spreader events, too often with dire consequences. Hosting one of these events after all New York has been through is obnoxious and irresponsible - not to mention illegal.

"We are eight months into this pandemic and simply will not tolerate businesses that put New Yorkers at risk. Those who continue to ignore the rules will lose their ability to serve alcohol, and I thank Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and his team for their cooperation in holding these bad actors accountable."

The state limit for non-essential gatherings is 50 persons.

After conducting an investigation, the Suffolk County Department of Health made a referral to the New York State Liquor Authority. 

On Friday, Nov. 6, the SLA charged the North Fork Country Club with multiple counts of failure to comply with Cuomo's Executive Orders concerning COVID-19 restrictions and failure to exercise adequate supervision of their premises. 

The SLA also issued a summary suspension of the venue's liquor license, preventing them from serving alcohol while the disciplinary violations are dealt with. The SLA issued the summary suspension because the board found emergency action was required to protect public health, safety, or welfare.

"This type of blatant disregard for the wellbeing of others is not only extremely disappointing," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. "It will not be tolerated. 

"Suffolk County took swift action to contain the community spread this wedding could have caused, and I commend Governor Cuomo for taking appropriate action. If you violate the rules, you will be caught and you will be held responsible."

When the SLA summarily suspends a license, the action also serves a "Notice of Pleading," alleging one or more disciplinary violations. 

The SLA's decision to summarily suspend a license is not a final determination on the merits of the case and the licensee is entitled to an expedited administrative law hearing before an independent Administrative Law Judge.An order of summary suspension remains in effect until such time as it is modified by the SLA or a reviewing Court.

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