NEW YORK - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said 37 bars and restaurants were fined for not complying with social distancing guidelines on Thursday night. Now he is calling on local governments to step it up, especially in neighborhoods like Astoria, Queens, to avoid a repeat of what happened last weekend.
"One of the things we're watching are the bar and restaurant violations and the congregations in front of bars and restaurants," Cuomo said at a briefing on Friday.
Cuomo's newly-appointed task force has already conducted nearly 1,100 compliance checks and documented violations at 84 establishments over the past couple of days.
The governor said that inspectors went out Thursday night and primarily focused on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Astoria and Jackson Heights in Queens, and Rockville Centre and Baldwin on Long Island.
Last weekend, massive, mask-free crowds swarmed Steinway Street in Astoria, even after Cuomo implemented a "three strikes and you're out" policy.
The big crowds propelled Mayor Bill de Blasio to call in extra enforcement after the wild partying fielded more than a hundred complaints to 311.
Henry Mendez said he closes the doors to his Colombian restaurant La Vecina at 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays just to play it safe.
"What are we going to do when so many people show up like that?" Mendez said. "So, for me, my safest bet is to close early."
Businesses that are caught violating COVID-19 regulations can get slapped with fines as high as $10,000.