NEW YORK - It is a cross between a block party and spring break every night on Steinway Street and Broadway, as hundreds of people fill one of the busiest thoroughfares in Astoria, Queens, and party hard until the early morning hours.
Video posted early Saturday morning shows revelers atop an ice cream truck, dancing, blasting music, and refusing to observe social distancing guidelines. Parties on previous nights similarly disturbed neighbors, who complained of smoke from motorcycles and quad bikes, fireworks, and a lack of social distancing.
"This is unacceptable," Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Saturday afternoon. "We can’t let up now. We’ll be out in Astoria and across the city tonight to make sure restaurants are doing their part to keep their diners and their workers safe."
The stretch is home to two popular restaurants that cater to a seated and standing party crowd that is taking advantage of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s outdoor dining directive, from early afternoon until early morning. Crowds often become so large that they force traffic to stop.
Neighbors living nearby say that they see people acting as if there is no pandemic at all.
People say that calls to 3-1-1 and 9-1-1 have not helped the situation. The NYPD says they were called to the scene for a “traffic condition” on Friday night and told the crowd to disperse, but other video shows a police car driving away while the crowd cheers.
"Every night from about 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. there is fireworks. I call the cops. The cops will drive right by," one woman complained.
The area is not one of the city’s designated “open streets,” designed to allow New Yorkers the space to roam, create social distance, and still enjoy a cocktail or two. Astoria does have two dedicated open streets.
On Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio created 40 more "open streets" throughout the five boroughs.
The state has imposed a $1,000 fine for not complying with social distancing guidelines.