Gov. Cuomo threatens to 'reverse' reopening in Manhattan, Hamptons amid rampant social-distancing violations

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Governor Andrew Cuomo holds daily briefing and opens Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport in New York. - Don Pollard/Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo/TNS

NEW YORK — Stir-crazy party animals may ruin the planned reopening for the rest of the city.

Areas including Manhattan and the Hamptons where businesses have been widely reported for violating social distancing rules could see their reopening plans “reversed,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened Sunday, even as Saturday marked the lowest number of new COVID-19 deaths in the state since its peak in April.

The state has received a whopping 25,000 complaints about establishments that are serving customers and allowing drinking on the streets, he said, noting Manhattan and the Hamptons are “leading areas in the state with violations.”

“I am warning today in a nice way: consequences of your actions,” Cuomo said at an Albany press conference, noting businesses can lose their liquor licenses for breaking social-distancing rules. “We have 25,000 complaints statewide. I’m not going to turn a blind eye to them.”

The threat came as social media have been flooded with photos of revelers congregating in Greenwich Village, the Upper East Side and Hell’s Kitchen — areas that typically draw well-to-do diners and drinkers. The images depict a city gone stir crazy after nearly three months of lockdown orders in which bars and restaurants have been prohibited from serving customers on their premises.

“They are rampant and there’s not enough enforcement,” Cuomo said of the violations. “I am not going to allow situations to exist that we know have a high likelihood of causing an increase in the spread of the virus.”

He chided both businesses and local leaders, saying, “Local government, do your job,” repeating the phrase for emphasis.

“If we have to close, then people are going to hold you accountable,” the governor added.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has given vague answers when asked about social-distancing violations at bars and restaurants.

Asked about crowds outside establishments in Hell’s Kitchen as protests roiled the city, he told a reporter on June 2, “I’m a little confused (about) what you think was happening Saturday night in New York City.

“We will go back to enforcing on bars and restaurants as we were many times, very effectively,” he added. “We’ll go back to that.”

His office did not immediately answer a request for comment on Cuomo’s threat.

The governor’s reproaches came as phase one of reopening — allowing construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade and some retail curbside pickup — was underway in the Big Apple. De Blasio recently said phase two, featuring outdoor dining, could begin as soon as next month.

As the city reopens — and appears to calm down following massive, heated demonstrations over the death of Minnesota man George Floyd — many New Yorkers have complained of police officers ignoring Health Department guidelines to wear masks in public.

Cuomo criticized such cops, saying, “It’s a very bad signal when you see police people who are not wearing a mask and not following the law.”

His press conference was not all doom and gloom.

There were 23 coronavirus deaths on Saturday, down from a high of 799 on April 8, according to state Health Department data, which excludes “probable” COVID-19 fatalities tracked by the city.

“This is really great news,” Cuomo said. “We breathe a deep sigh of relief today because of all the numbers we’ve been talking about, that’s the one number we can’t change.”


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