Long Island Restaurants Making Improvement on Social Distancing Compliance

Outdoor dining returned to Long Island in June following a three-month coronavirus shutdown. Photo by Mira Lerner.

More than 100 bars and restaurants across New York State were found violating social distancing mandates this weekend, mostly in New York City, but none were found in violation on Long Island, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

The governor commended Nassau and Suffolk counties for increased local enforcement of COVID-19 social distancing measures, saying that state patrol visits to Long Island establishments found that all had followed official guidance.

“Nassau and Suffolk have been doing much better,” Cuomo told reporters in a conference call with the press, contrasting LI’s successes with previous violations that prompted stern warnings.

Dox, a waterfront bar in Island Park, and Secrets Gentlemen’s Club, a strip club in Deer Park, recently had their liquor licenses suspended by the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) for alleged social distancing violations. At Dox, 235 patrons were found in a space only approved for up to 42, while undercover investigators found maskless patrons enjoying prohibited lap dances, alcohol without food, and adult entertainment.

A new regulation that debuted July 16 mandates bar patrons order food along with alcoholic beverages, in an attempt to reduce stand-up “mingling” as opposed to seated, socially distant small gatherings, Cuomo said.

Summonses were also issued last week when state officials stopped by restaurants across New York State, including stops in Rockville Center and Baldwin. Statewide, 10 establishments had their liquor licenses suspended over the weekend, adding to a total of 40 during the pandemic. 

With Friday and Saturday seeing 52 and 53 summonses, respectively, across New York, Cuomo said more liquor licenses will likely be suspended as establishments accumulate more than three strikes.

“We don’t want to go backwards and have to take away bars and restaurants,” Cuomo concluded.

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