Reports of COVID-19 outbreaks out of control in more than 20 states around the country that may have reopened too soon or without appropriate precautions have caused concern with State health officials. It’s clear New Yorkers are as anxious to get back to normal life as folks in every other state. The warm weather has brought everyone out, ready to enjoy the summer, and the State is concerned that unless social distancing and the use of facial coverings is maintained that the virus could begin to spread at outbreak levels.

Liquor licensees in New York State received a letter from State Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley tonight thanking them for their cooperation with the State’s guidance, reminding them of their obligations, and informing them of new responsibilities to control the areas around their premises. The Authority has made more than 1,000 inspections during the period of time licensees have been under the State of Emergency restrictions with a focus on serious violations. We expect that will continue with the new enforcement effort.

This is a difficult road to navigate. It’s counter to the role of a hospitality establishment to refuse to serve their patrons, yet social distancing and face covering rules as public health measures aren’t much different than “no shirts, no shoes, no service” signs prevalent in businesses. The country may be caught in a disagreement about how to¬† handle these issues, but the public health experts are not in disagreement so the rules for restaurants and bars are likely going to continue to require customer compliance with social distancing and face coverings. And we need to keep your businesses open – can’t risk a second shut down from which you may not emerge.

Serious efforts to comply rather than blatantly ignoring the rules does make a difference with the Liquor Authority. Keep trying your best, document your efforts, remind your staff of their responsibilities and take notes of any enforcement incidents. And reach out to the Association if you need our help.