NEW YORK—This weekend, local news media captured disturbing images and videos of large groups of New Yorkers ignoring social distancing requirements outside bars and restaurants on St. Mark’s Place and other Manhattan locations.
Senator Brad Hoylman, who represents St. Mark’s Place in the State Senate, issued the following statement in response:
“New Yorkers are dying every day from COVID-19. It’s dangerous and irresponsible to abandon social distancing while the pandemic continues to rage.
“As the Senator who represents much of the heart of Manhattan, I know small businesses are hurting. But there’s no excuse for the large crowds we’ve seen congregating on St. Mark’s Place and elsewhere in Manhattan. In the middle of a pandemic, that’s putting lives at risk.
“A liquor license is a privilege that comes with a significant responsibility to protect the public interest. The State Liquor Authority (SLA) should immediately bring inspectors to Manhattan to assess the situation and work to enforce open container laws.
“If these violations of social distancing continue, Governor Cuomo should immediately reconsider his executive order permitting take-out and delivery alcohol service. As the Senate sponsor of legislation that would extend this executive order for two years, I’m reassessing whether to amend it to limit it to alcohol delivery only and ban to go sales, to have the legislation apply only outside New York City, or to withdraw the bill altogether. In doing so, I will continue working closely with Community Boards and local stakeholders to determine the best way forward.
“My bill was meant to be a lifeline for restaurants and bars facing extinction because of COVID-19, not an opportunity for these establishments to totally disregard open container laws and social distancing requirements. The failures of these establishments to follow the law will create a public health disaster, not to mention creating noise and quality of life issues.
“Restaurants and bars need to get their act together. Public health is too important to get this wrong.”