Governor says state may be forced to close bars and restaurants if Covid noncompliance continues

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 July 2020 at 10:47 am

Governor Andrew Cuomo said today he is increasingly concerned with reports of large crowds at bars and restaurants, with many patrons not socially distancing or wearing masks.

It is particularly a problem in New York City and Long Island, Cuomo said, as well as some establishments in Upstate New York.

Those operators are putting all bars and restaurants at risk of being closed, Cuomo said during a news conference this morning in New York City, before he headed to Savannah, Ga.

“One of the main threats to our progress is the number of congregations that we’re seeing across the state, but especially in downstate, primarily of young people, and we saw it again over the weekend,” Cuomo said. “It is a problem, and I’m telling you in plain New York speak that it’s stupid and it has to stop. This not just morality, these restaurants and bars are breaking the law and they are going to make it bad for everyone else because if this continues we’re going to have to roll back the reopening plan and close all bars and restaurants.”

The state is currently doing well in containing Covid-19, Cuomo said, but the crowds at bars and restaurants, as well as travelers from state’s with high Covid-19 rates, make the state vulnerable to a spike in new cases.

The state on Sunday reported 716 people were hospitalized with Covid-19, gthe lowest number since March 18.

The state also reported 519 new cases of Covid-19, with 1.05 percent testing positive out of 49,342 tests.

Cuomo said he is pleased the state is holding steady at a 1 percent positive rate with the tests.

“We did the impossible in New York,” he said about reducing the hospitalizations and number of daily new cases. “We have to protect the progress we’ve made.”

The state in the throes of the pandemic had nearly 20,000 people hospitalized with Covid-19, and there were more than 10,000 new confirmed cases at the peak.

Cuomo said he appreciates other states reaching out to New York in March and April when hospitals were overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients. About 30,000 healthcare professionals offered to come to New York hospitals when the crisis raged.

“I know New Yorkers. We don’t forget,” Cuomo said. “We’re doing everything we can to pay it back.”

He is going to Savannah today to offer advice on setting up testing sites, a contact tracing program and plan to help hospitals manage the Covid-19 patients.

Cuomo urged the local governments and police departments to enforce the Covid-19 guidelines for bars and restaurants. He said the state is close to being forced to shut down the establishments due to noncompliance.

“The bad restaurant and bar owners are going to make it worse for the good ones,” Cuomo said.

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