Steinway Street in Astoria has recently become the go-to spot for partiers, and a potential hotbed for coronavirus.
Videos of crowds all over the two-way street have surfaced on social media recently, showing partiers congregating in close proximity to one another without masks, dancing, smoking and drinking.
Shit like this high key gets me so mad.— BREN 🥺👉🏼👈🏼 (@brebekahh) July 17, 2020
My business STILL can’t open.
A 1-on-1 service in a completely sterile environment, with safety procedures in place- can’t operate until Phase 4, but this is happening?? @NYGovCuomo #astoria
The scene is horrific for those trying to abide by the state's health and safety protocols by keeping their own businesses closed and a major disappointment for those who have been staying home so that our city can reopen. It's been happening since at least mid-June, according to Patch, but it all came to a head last weekend, when #Astoria was trending on Twitter. Video after video showed these partiers living it up with seemingly no hesitation until 4am.
On Monday, just as hospitalizations statewide have gotten to an all-time low, Governor Andrew Cuomo put his foot down and had a message for partiers: "Don't be stupid."
"I understand the frustration...it has to stop," he said, addressing young people. "I'm telling you in plain New York-speak as a born and bread New Yorker: It is stupid what you're doing. Don't be stupid—that is good advice in life. Take it from a person who has lived a lot of life. What they're doing is stupid and reckless for themselves and for other people and it has to stop."
"You will take the virus and you will give it to someone else, unless you live in a hermetically sealed bubble, that will happen—you could kill someone," he continued. "It's not just about you, it's about who you could infect and who you could hurt."
He also lambasted the "bad" bars and restaurants not following the state's regulations by not enforcing social distancing, mask usage and allowing crowds to gather, and threatened to shut them all down.
"Most restaurants and bars are complying...the bad ones who are exploiting the situation and breaking the law are going to make it bad for everyone," he said. "Local governments are not doing their job cannot allow congregating to continue. We're going to have to roll back the opening plan and going to have to close bars and restaurants. It's a logical consequence of these actions and that's where we are."
He also took New York City, the mayor, and the NYPD to task on not enforcing the rules. It's not about telling young people to wear masks, he said, it's about issuing summonses and not allowing these groups to gather.
"You don't want to enforce the law because it's politically unpopular and you don't want to do something that's politically unpopular," Cuomo railed. "I'll tell you something more politically unpopular—when you have to explain to people why you had to close all the bars and restaurants...rather then telling the NYPD to do their job. The police departments have to enforce the law. That is the only line between anarchy and civilization."
Later on Monday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city would begin issuing summonses and shutting restaurants to those who do not abide by state regulations and allow people to congregate and party. He added that the offending restaurant on Steinway Street had been shut down as of Monday.
"It's not wide spread, but where we find it, it has to stop," the mayor said. "We don't want to give out summonses...but if we have to, we will give out summonses. There will be heavier enforcement by the Sheriff's Office, and when needed, the NYPD, of bars and restaurants."
When the virus got out of control in other cities, it was because of "reckless disregard" at bars and restaurants, the mayor said. Reopening bars and restaurants in NYC was never meant to be "business as usual," he said.
"I think it's as clear as this: We don't want to shut down, but if have to shut down a few of those, it is a whole hell of a lot better than seeing the coronavirus surge again in this city."
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