Police responded to a string of social-distancing violation complaints over Independence Day weekend — including an incident on Fire Island where a large group of unmasked beachgoers packed the oceanfront.
Nassau County police responded to 68 complaints, gave 16 warnings, and issued three appearance tickets during the holiday weekend. East Hampton Town Police cited three Montauk restaurant owners for failing to enforce social-distancing rules. And Suffolk County police twice warned crowds on the beach in Fire Island Pines that they needed to follow rules intended to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“These individuals seem to be going out of their way to violate these rules,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said of the Fire Island case. “That is simply unacceptable. It is a slap in the face for all of those people that have sacrificed and for those that have worked so hard to get us to this point.”
Photos of the large crowds on Fire Island went viral on social media, but no citations were issued in that case.
In Montauk, the owners of two restaurants were arrested on Saturday night on misdemeanor charges related to alleged violations of the State Liquor Authority Alcoholic Beverage Control laws, during inspections related to COVID-19 safety regulation compliance. These restaurants also saw a denial to comply with social distancing when videos surfaced of people crowding a restaurant. These restaurants could lose their licenses.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo reminded residents that protocols have to be continuously followed for the infection rates to stay low and warned of “COVID fatigue” — peoples’ decreasing motivation to comply with regulations — by pointing to other states where the virus is on the rise as an example of what can happen. Reopening has been paused or reversed in some other states.
“We have to bend the curve,” the governor warned. “The bend doesn’t happen naturally. The bend happens when people change their behavior and actually reduce the transmission rate. That mountain plateaued because we did masks and social distancing and closed down. That’s how we bent the curve.”
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