In a briefing on Monday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo warned that overcrowding at bars and restaurants in the New York City area is “a threat” to the state’s reopening.
"We have to protect the progress that we have made,” Cuomo said. “You see the numbers. The goal is now to stay there.”
The Democratic governor added that the state “will have to roll back the bar and restaurant opening if the congregations continue” and if local governments and police departments don’t enforce mask and social distancing policies.
Cuomo said his office received reports of large groups of maskless people drinking in open spaces and violating the state’s open container law.
“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.
Gatherings could delay reopenings
Cuomo said most of the reports his office received involved younger people, who tend to believe they are less likely to catch the virus.
"Don't be stupid," he said. "What they're doing is stupid and reckless for themselves and for other people. Young people, as a general rule, believe they're superheroes. I understand I was a young person once. First of all, that's not a fact, there are facts and then there are wrong pieces of information. You can get sick in your 20s. You can die in your 20s, people have."
He added that “unless you live in a hermetically sealed bubble,” young people can contract the virus and give it someone else. “You will go home and you will transfer to someone else who will transfer it to someone else, and you could kill someone,” he said.
With regard to next steps in the state’s reopening, Cuomo reiterated that local governments and police play a crucial role in enforcing health and safety policies.
“I've said repeatedly that the local governments are in charge of compliance and if young people are going to come out and do something stupid local governments have to enforce the law," he said. "That's how it works in life, and the police department has to enforce the law, and they are not doing it. And that is their job and they have to do it."
Cuomo’s warning came the same day that New York City was cleared to enter Phase IV of its reopening plan. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that the “troubling overcrowding” seen recently “won’t be tolerated.”
"We don't want to shut down restaurants. We don't want to shut down bars. But if we have to shut down a few of them, it's a hell of a lot better than the coronavirus surging in this city,” he said.