Groups of young people congregating at New York bars and restaurants, especially in the New York City area, are "a threat" to the state's reopening and could force the businesses to close down again, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Monday.
Cuomo said his office continued to receive reports of crowding and mask violations over the weekend in the New York City area, only days after he announced the state would ramp up enforcement at bars and restaurants not complying with the state's social distancing policies.
"We will have to roll back the bar and restaurant opening if the congregations continue, if the local governments don't stop it, that is what is going to happen," Cuomo said at a news conference.
Cuomo said, in some instances, there were as many as 700 people drinking in an open space and violating the state's open container law, displaying images of large groups of people in Astoria, Queens, and on the Lower East Side in Manhattan.
"Bars and restaurants are the problem, and it doesn't need to be because it's not just the bars and the restaurants," he said.
On Thursday, Cuomo outlined a new order that would close a restaurant after three violations of the state's social distancing requirements. Egregious violators could face immediate closure and lose their liquor license.
However, he said Monday that local police departments and governments that aren't enforcing the state's social distancing policies "are not doing their job." New York has added investigators to the state liquor authority and issued dozens of citations, but Cuomo said he "can't do this without the local government or the police."
"The police department is not there to inform them of mask compliance. Police departments have to enforce the law. That is the only line between anarchy and civilization. They have to enforce the law and they're not," Cuomo said at the news conference Monday.
New York City has been cleared to enter phase four of the state's reopening on Monday, but with some restrictions. Phase four will allow for more outdoor activities such as zoos, outdoor films and gardens, but indoor operations, including indoor dining and malls, will remain closed, Cuomo said Friday.
Another threat to New York's reopening Cuomo cited: the federal government.
"I've said to the president from day one this virus does not respond to politics, it doesn't respond to bullying, it doesn't respond to rhetoric, it doesn't respond to denial. It is the science," said Cuomo, who will travel to Georgia on Monday to assist local leaders with their Covid-19 outbreak.
As cases continue to grow in a majority of states across the country, the nation is as "still totally unprepared" to combat Covid-19 as it was five months ago, he said, facing shortages of coronavirus testing and personal protective equipment.
"I've been talking to other states and mayors and governors, about testing, they still don't have testing. They still don't have tracing programs, they still don't have PPE," he said. "It's like we were on day one of Covid."