An Ossining bar was one of seven establishments in the metropolitan area last week and the only one in Westchester that had its liquor license suspended by the State Liquor Authority (SLA) Thursday for violating COVID-19 regulations.
The SLA received a referral from the Ossining Village Police Department regarding an incident at Atlantic Bar & Restaurant at 84 Croton Ave. on July 24.
Officers observed several patrons congregating outside, with the front door to the business locked, according to a release from the governor’s office. Officers had the owner open the front door, where they observed numerous patrons inside drinking and mingling with no facial coverings and no food being served.
“The rising rate of infection among young people and the issue of crowded bars is not unique to New York – the World Health Organization has warned about it, states all across the country are dealing with it, and even the President has said young people should avoid bars – but we are taking decisive action in the Empire State to make sure it does not undermine our progress against the coronavirus,” Cuomo said.
The state’s multiagency task force, led by the state police and the SLA, has completed 1,966 compliance checks and observed 96 violations, for a non-compliance rate of almost 5 percent. Businesses who violate COVID-19 regulations face fines up to $10,000 per violation, while egregious violations can result in the immediate suspension of a bar or restaurant’s liquor license.
“We will continue to hold licensees accountable for protecting New Yorkers’ health and safety in bars and restaurants,” said SLA Chair Vincent Bradley. “New Yorkers have sacrificed to bend the curve of coronavirus, and at a time when dozens of states are seeing cases surge, we all have a shared responsibility to keep this virus at bay.”
After state investigators observe violations, formal charges are filed and fines may be issued. Emergency summary suspensions are imposed when the SLA finds the continued operation of a licensed business threatens public health and safety.
Suspension orders are served immediately and remain in effect indefinitely. Licensees subject to an emergency suspension are entitled to an expedited hearing before an SLA administrative law judge.
Westchester Looking at Parties
Westchester officials sought Monday to get facts out about COVID-19 testing and how negative results do not protect people in large-group gatherings after social media reports surfaced that there have been as many as a dozen parties involving teenagers or young adults.
Hosts of private parties throughout Westchester have been requiring guests to show a recent negative COVID-19 test in order to gain admittance, County Executive George Latimer said.
County Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler said the tests do not enable anyone to attend large gatherings safely or give an individual an exemption from wearing a mask or from self-quarantining upon returning from a state that is on the mandatory two-week quarantine list.
“Don’t think you can get any one of these tests and get a negative (result) and then go to a large event and be safe at that event and not spread it to others,” Amler warned, “because there’s no test that can really tell you that in that moment of time.”
Amler said there continues to be misunderstanding with some segments of the public about the different types of tests and what that information yields. The antibody test is a blood test that shows whether a person has been infected by the virus; the antigen test is a rapid test that can inform a person within an hour whether they are infected with COVID-19, but it carries a false negative rate of as much as 35 percent; and the more standard molecular test that swabs the inside of the nose and tests for the virus infection.
A person can receive a negative in the morning and be infected by the time they attend a party at night, she said.
“A negative test does not mean you are protected, you have a cone of invincibility around you because you have a negative test,” Latimer said.
The state’s daily tracker of cases shows that New York State is maintaining a daily transmission rate of about 1 percent on a daily basis. From July 23 through Aug. 2, the statewide daily transmission rate barely budged – at 0.9 to 1.1 percent.
In Westchester, there were 463 active COVID-19 cases and 44 hospitalizations as of Sunday. In the week between July 26 and Aug. 2, there were three COVID-19 deaths in the county.