New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that he would revoke the liquor licenses of bars and restaurants that have large crowds that are in violation of coronavirus restrictions. There were multiple videos that went viral showing crowded bars and restaurants over the weekend, and Cuomo even tweeted "don't make me come down there" on Saturday in reaction to one video of bar patrons seen in Manhattan's East Village.
"I am not going to allow situations to exist that we know have a high likelihood of causing an increase in the spread of the virus," Cuomo said at his coronavirus briefing Sunday.
Although he did not give specifics, Cuomo said "there is a very real possibility" reopening in certain areas could be rolled back if there is an increase in coronavirus cases. He specifically cited Manhattan and the Hamptons on the eastern end of Long Island.
While restaurants have begun to open throughout the state with restrictions on capacity, they are still closed in New York City except for takeout only and bars are still closed statewide except for curbside service. Crowds have developed outside bars, especially in New York City, as the weather has become nicer.
Cuomo said there have been 25,000 complaints to the state about businesses not complying with social distancing guidelines, although he did not give a timeframe for when the state received the complaints. Cuomo said the State Liquor Authority and a special task force is investigating, and he said he personally called some establishments that he believed violated the laws.
"This is the situation and these are the facts: 'Well, they're not being ethical, they're not being moral, they're not being good New Yorkers,'" he said. "Great. They're also violating the law. This is a question of violating the law. Not just feel guilty, you're violating the law, all right and this is a very serious situation and I want to make sure everyone understands the consequences here.
Cuomo reminded people that open container laws are still in effect, meaning that they face a violation for standing outside a bar with an open container of alcohol. He also called on local leaders in New York City and the Hamptons to enforce social distancing guidelines.
Protests continued in New York throughout the weekend over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Cuomo warned that protesters and police should remember "the law applies to you" on social distancing. He said police in particular should be setting an example.
"It's a very bad signal when you see police people who are not wearing a mask and not following the law," Cuomo said.
The governor continued to tout the state's repeal of a law that allowed police disciplinary records to remain private. "I am very proud of what New York has done because New York has remained active," Cuomo said.
Cuomo said every community should be discussing how to redesign their police departments. He gave April 1 as the deadline to come up with real change.