Every night, residents heard the nonstop sirens of ambulances. Hospitals were overflowing with COVID-19 patients. The daily hospitalization count and death rate kept going up throughout the state.
Although New York City has flattened the curve, thanks in large part to strong buy-in from the public on facial coverings and social distancing, we shouldn’t celebrate just yet. The pandemic is not yet over, as COVID-19 cases are hitting new highs across the country.
That’s why residents were so shocked to see the out-of-control partying taking place, like Steinway Street in Astoria a few weeks ago. Videos captured revelers partying in the streets without masks, and definitely without proper distancing.
The ensuing crackdown on this type of flagrant behavior was necessary to keep the city safe during a pandemic.
The State Liquor Authority subsequently pulled the liquor licenses of several alleged bad actors, ut apparently, that message was not loud enough.including two bars in Astoria and another in Maspeth. B
The following week, the SLA suspended the liquor licenses for 12 additional bars, all along commercial strips in Queens. The watering holes were caught violating a variety of COVID-related regulations, from ignoring social distancing and operating past the 11 p.m. curfew, to not wearing face masks.
Altogether, 45 businesses have had their liquor licenses temporarily revoked as of last week.
Bar owners and employees must do a better job of controlling the crowds, especially when they get out of hand. They have to enforce coronavirus protocols and kick out customers who refuse to comply.
Similar, customers have a responsibility to abide by these rules. While everyone should be allowed to blow off some steam after being cooped up inside for five months, that doesn’t mean patrons have the right to flout even simple asks like wearing a face mask.
As the pandemic continues from summer into fall, New Yorkers should be proud of themselves for keeping cases and deaths relatively low compared to the rest of the country.
But make no mistake, we can’t afford to slip up and allow the virus to harm our most vulnerable, our essential workers or anyone else again.
Everyone has a role to play, and we should keep holding those who refuse to hold up their end of the bargain accountable.