Five more New York City bars temporarily saw their liquor licenses suspended Thursday for various violations of the existing COVID-19-related safety protocols, marking the latest development in the state’s ongoing crackdown on restaurants and bars and in the city.
This latest announcement brings the total number of NYC restaurants and bars with suspended liquor licenses to 43. A handful of other city bars that had also been suspended since the start of the pandemic after paying fines that go as high as $35,000.
Thursday’s suspensions once again focused on Queens with three of the five citations taking place at Republic, in Astoria; Kabu Bar Lounge, in Jackson Heights; and Lalile Steakhouse in East Elmhurst. At all three venues, officers that are part of the new state task force looking into safety violations, observed crowds outside the spots drinking and hanging out without social distancing. At Republic, inspectors observed the establishment open and serving customers at 12:30 a.m., even though the city’s curfew on restaurants and bars begins at 11 p.m.
The two other suspensions took place at the Upper West Side’s High Life Bar and Grill, where inspectors found customers seated and being served inside on July 29; and at Cobble Hill’s Bar Tabac, where inspectors saw at least seven restaurant employees working without any facial coverings. Though the state hasn’t announced fines for any of these establishments, each of them could face $10,000 in fines per violation.
Since Monday, the task force has completed 1,966 checks and found violations at 96 establishments, which according to the state’s data shows that about five percent of restaurants and bars in the state aren’t complying with safety protocols. Liquor licenses are only suspended after “egregious” or repeated violations, though the state hasn’t specifically outlined what that means.
41 of the violations handed out this week were based on inspections last night, and the most citations — 20 — were handed out in Manhattan. More liquor license suspensions could follow as a result of the violations spotted last night.
Since the start of the pandemic, the State Liquor Authority has tracked safety violations at 549 establishments across the state, though a majority of them have been in NYC. Though the city has largely brought the spread of the virus under control, the recent crackdown has been largely prompted by the rapid increase in coronavirus cases in other parts of the country — in many instances due to the reopening of restaurants and bars.
In July, Gov. Andrew Cuomo instituted a three-strike system against restaurants and bars not enforcing social distancing, and has threatened to shut down places that repeatedly violate safety measures. No establishments have been shut down because of this new rule yet.