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SLA Suspends 12 More Liquor Licenses in Queens for Social-Distancing Violations

The SLA has now suspended the liquor licenses of 29 NYC establishments since the start of the pandemic

New York Governor Cuomo Holds Coronavirus Briefing In Manhattan
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that an additional 12 NYC bars had their liquor licenses suspended.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Following up on his announcement from this past weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that 12 more NYC restaurants and bars — mostly in Jackson Heights, and all in Queens — have had their liquor licenses temporarily suspended due to social distancing violations.

A total of 29 restaurants and bars in NYC have had their liquor licenses suspended since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to data released by the State Liquor Authority — though in a handful of cases the suspensions have been lifted after fines, ranging from $5,000 to $35,000, were paid.

The latest round of suspensions stem from inspections SLA officers made last week, and in some cases over the course of several inspections including visits in June. Most of the establishments that received suspensions today are located in Jackson Heights, and in most instances SLA inspectors observed large crowds outside these establishments drinking without social distancing, and many customers didn’t have facial coverings either.

Cuomo has published the full list of bars and outlined the various charges against them on his website. Restaurants and bars found in violation of the COVID-19 related guidelines can face fines of up to $10,000 per violations. Luke’s Lounge, in the Bronx, previously faced $35,000 in fines for multiple violations. The SLA hasn’t yet announced specific fines for the bars that had their liquor licenses suspended today.

The state’s task force monitoring restaurants and bars — which includes the SLA and the State Police — carried out 644 inspections on Monday, in the city, and found violations at 26 establishments. Suspensions are only handed it out for the most egregious violations of the coronavirus-related safety guidelines, but the state hasn’t clarified what the violations entail for bars that don’t get suspended.

With restaurants and bars reeling from the coronavirus crisis — dozens of places have permanently shuttered due the financial fallout from COVID-19 — many have relied on outdoor dining to stay afloat. Many restaurant owners and staffers, however, have expressed frustration about the rollout of the outdoor dining guidelines, and raised concerns that the rules are constantly changing.

Though New York has largely brought the spread of the virus under control, the rise in cases across the state has prompted elected officials like Cuomo to call for more caution. He has repeatedly threatened to shut down bars and restaurants in New York, again, if social distancing protocol isn’t followed.