Coronavirus New York: As COVID cases surge on Staten Island, restaurant declares 'autonomous zone'

Upper Manhattan, northern part of Staten Island reach yellow zone

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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Lucy Yang reports that the first COVID patient has been admitted to the emergency field hospitals in Staten Island and that more could be on the way.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- As coronavirus cases continue to surge across New York City and particularly on Staten Island, even prompting the set up of a new field hospital, one restaurant is refusing to comply.

The temporary hospital on the grounds of the South Beach Psychiatric Hospital cared for 200 patients in spring, when hospital wards were overwhelmed with seriously ill and dying patients.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said officials are concerned it might be needed again, and the emergency facility is the first in the state to relaunch since the COVID-19 pandemic was partly tamed over the summer.

On Tuesday, that concern was realized as the first COVID patient was admitted to the emergency field hospital late in the day, and many more are expected.

Dr. Brahim Ardolic tells ABC News that "Our first patient is on their way right now and we'll be taking a well over a dozen patients today."

The Executive Director of Staten Island University Hospital says they will be making sure that they get this filled up, at least their first floor over the next several days.

Coronavirus by zip code - Check New York City

Businesses are facing new restrictions, but one owner ways he won't close his doors, declaring his Grant City pub an "autonomous zone."

"This was a dream for me and my partner, and for it to be stripped away is very tough," Keith McAlarney said. "And it's a very scary time we're in."

Choking back tears, McAlarney said he is desperate and that his year-old Mac's Public House is on the brink of shutting down. Now, he's posted an eyebrow-raising statement plastered on the window, saying "We refuse to abide by any rules and regulations put fourth by the mayor of New York City and governor of New York state."

"It does mean what it says, but we do have proper safety measures in place," he said.

McAlarney doesn't get why restaurants are once again being singled out by Cuomo, with Staten Island designated an orange zone and indoor dining again shuttered. What those zones mean is listed below.

Gyms and salons are also closed, with capacity limits in houses of worship and gatherings limited to 10 people. McAlarney is unsure what will happen if and when the city tries to shut him down.

"I guess we're going to end up finding out," he said.

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Staten Island has averaged 209 new cases of COVID-19 per day over the past seven days, up 86% from two weeks ago.

COVID positivity rates are above 4% and climbing, and hospitalizations have tripled in the last three weeks.

Holiday travel is also a threat, with testing lines wrapped around the block as people prepare to board planes.

MORE: Here's what each COVID zone in New York means:

YELLOW ZONE RULES IF POSITIVITY RATE IS 2.5%

- Houses of Worship: 50% capacity

- Mass gatherings: 25 people maximum

- Businesses: Open

- Dining: Indoor/Outdoor, 4-person max per table

- Schools: Open, mandatory 20% testing

ORANGE ZONE RULES IF POSITIVITY RATE IS 3.0%

- Houses of Worship: 33% capacity, 25 people maximum

- Mass gatherings: 10 people maximum, indoor and outdoor

- Businesses: Closing high-risk non-essential businesses such as gyms and personal care

- Dining: Outdoor dining only, 4-person maximum per table

- Schools: Remote with "test out" to open

RED ZONE RULES IF POSITIVITY RATE IS 3.0%

- Houses of Worship: 25% capacity, 10 people maximum

- Mass gatherings: Prohibited

- Businesses: Essential only

- Dining: Takeout/delivery only

- Schools: Remote with "test out" to open

MORE CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 COVERAGE

Coronavirus by zip code - New York City

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New York, New Jersey, Connecticut out-of-state travelers information

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New York City Positivity Tracker

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