Reopen News: Cuomo cracks down on bars, restaurants as many defy rules

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- As Gov. Andrew Cuomo mulls a final decision on whether New York City will enter phase 4 of reopening Monday, the governor promised more crackdowns on bars and restaurants.

Cuomo announced Thursday a new "three strikes" policy that will require bars and restaurants to close after they receive three citations for failing to follow rules, including mask-wearing and keeping people 6 feet apart.

Cuomo said the state's fielding thousands of complaints on top of "significant evidence of failure to comply" among restaurants and businesses, particularly downstate. He said "egregious violations" can still result in the immediate loss of a liquor license, and warned that the state would post names of restaurants and bars in violation.

"The state itself has looked at over 5,000 establishments in downstate New York and found many cases of a failure to comply," he said. "It's wrong, it's dangerous, it's selfish, it's unacceptable, it's also illegal."

And restaurants and bars across New York can no longer allow walk-up bar service, or serve alcohol to people who aren't buying food, he added.

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He called on local governments to better enforce safety guidelines.

"Our intention on the phase was to open outdoor dining. We never said outdoor bars. We were never opening outdoor bars. We were opening outdoor dining. We never said we were opening block party bars. Outdoor dining, meaning people come to eat. Which means people go sit at a table, stay at the table, only be exposed to the people at the table and the tables were socially distanced. That's what we approved. We did not approve outdoor bars where you set up tables for people to place drinks and then you have 100 people mingling outside in a block party format. That's not what we approved. We never did. So outdoor dining, if they think outdoor dining meant an outdoor bar, they are wrong. And that is the exact behavior that we are seeing all over the nation that is causing an increase in the virus. So that was never authorized in the first place. Take out drinks were authorized, but the take out drinks was you could purchase a container and then you can go home and drink it. But there was never an authorization of outside congregate drinking. That was never authorized," Cuomo said.

New York is also launching a national advertising campaign encouraging people to wear masks, said Cuomo, who has expressed concern about rising infections out-of-state. He announced a $2,000 fine for airport travelers from states with high infection rates who don't fill out a form to help New York track compliance with a 14-day quarantine requirement.

Citizens who see violations or are concerned can report complaints, including photos, to the State Liquor Authority at www.sla.ny.gov.

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