Bars and restaurants that violate the state’s COVID-19 reopening guidelines can immediately lose their liquor licenses or be ordered to shut down, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.
It seems that we have heard the same song in recent weeks as businesses struggle to reopen and, in the case of restaurants and bars, restock inventory.
But, here in the Twin Counties, we have been left with the same question: Who is going to enforce the governor’s order, and how will it be done?
The state mandate strengthens enforcement to ensure compliance during New York’s four-phase reopening of nonessential businesses. So it appears the job of seeing to it that businesses play by the rules falls to the state Liquor Authority, whose investigators are out monitoring enforcement.
Now, here’s where the confusion sets in.
“Local governments must get their act together,” Cuomo said Thursday. “If you ignore the rules, then it’s not a phased reopening.”
That’s great, but if local governments have to get their act together, does it mean they are tasked with enforcement?
The state has received 25,000 complaints to date, including phone calls and letters, about businesses not enforcing social-distancing guidelines, minimizing crowds or making patrons wear face coverings.
The state Liquor Authority shut down a Hudson restaurant a few weeks ago for rule violations, but similar closings are few and far between.
In the meantime, we still see businesses allowing people without masks into their establishments, despite posted warnings to the contrary. These businesses undermine the intent of the state’s four-phase reopening process and efforts to keep customers safe and healthy.