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Cuomo warns restaurants, bars to follow distancing rules or face a shutdown


Governor Andrew Cuomo is threatening to shut down bars and restaurants in New York state if the establishments and local authorities don’t crack down on rules violations that Cuomo said could spread COVID-19.

There have been numerous accounts of bars and restaurants where patrons are not wearing masks and are crowding together, and Cuomo said he fears a resurgence of the coronavirus. He said owners have to follow the rules, and local authorities, including the police, have to enforce them or all of the eating and drinking establishments will have to close again. 
Governor Andrew Cuomo at his daily briefing on Sunday, May 10, 2020. - FILE PHOTO
  • Governor Andrew Cuomo at his daily briefing on Sunday, May 10, 2020.

“We will have to roll back the bar and restaurant opening,” Cuomo said. “If the congregations continue, if the local governments don’t stop it, that is what is going to happen.”

The governor spoke just before traveling to Georgia, where he brought thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment to Savannah Mayor Van Johnson. New York is also helping the city set up two testing sites and sharing contact tracer training.

The two held a roundtable discussion, where Johnson said he hopes to learn from a state that so far has been successful fighting the disease. New York’s transmission rate of COVID-19 was at 1 percent on Sunday.

“We want to be able to talk about COVID-19 in our rearview mirror, too,” said Johnson. “And we want to do all we can to help make that happen.”

Cuomo compared the nation’s lack of resistance to the spread of the coronavirus to that of a person with compromised health. He said the disease exposes fractures in political and governing structures in the same way it finds weaknesses in the body.

“This nation is always strongest when it is the most unified, that is the strong body and the strong immune system,” Cuomo said. “And a divided nation is a vulnerable nation.”

Cuomo said the divisiveness includes vulnerabilities to religious, racial, economic and geographical differences.

“And vulnerable to the COVID virus, but that virus is just pointing out that the body was weak, and we have to strengthen the body,” Cuomo said. “And today we did.”

New York is also sending supplies to Texas and Florida.

The governor also expressed worries about the virus reentering New York through other states where the disease is spreading rapidly. New York has issued a two-week quarantine for visitors from nearly two dozen states and New Yorkers returning from those states.

The state of Georgia is on that list. But Cuomo said the quarantine order does not apply to him because he was there for less than a day, and he is considered an essential worker and therefore exempt from the rules. The governor said he will take a coronavirus test, though, when he returns.

Karen DeWitt is Albany correspondent for WXXI News.