July 20, 2020 By Allie Griffin
An Astoria bar and lounge has been booted from the city’s curbside dining program after crowds of customers swarmed the street out front with little to no concern for social distancing rules.
The city has suspended Brik Astoria, located at 32-16 Steinway St., from its outdoor dining program for seven days after dozens of videos and complaints surfaced over the weekend showing a clear lack of social distancing among patrons.
Steinway St. in Astoria, Queens on 7/17 at 1:39 am. pic.twitter.com/HZg2W74cpK
— Alla Lefkowitz (@LegalGal83) July 17, 2020
The lounge cannot set up tables and chairs in curbside street parking areas for one week and must submit a social distancing plan to the city to resume operations.
Brik Astoria is the only establishment that the city has suspended from the program thus far, according to City Hall.
Videos from this weekend show massive crowds of people — many without face masks — dancing and singing in the middle of Steinway Street. One video shows two people climbing up a moving ice cream truck.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the crowding “unacceptable” on Saturday afternoon and warned that the coronavirus pandemic is not over.
“New Yorkers have made too many sacrifices to fight COVID-19,” he Tweeted. “We can’t let up now.”
By the following evening, de Blasio had taken a stronger stance, Tweeting “Party’s over.”
“Dedicated sheriff patrols will be on Steinway until further notice,” he wrote. “They’ll enforce closing times, issue summonses and work with the NYPD to keep the roadways clear.”
Astoria Council Member Costa Constantinides called the crowds on Steinway Street Friday night “an embarrassment.”
Steinway will be closed by tomorrow 😩😩 pic.twitter.com/izogF8nAvc
— Easy Taught You (@ItsM_E_Z) July 18, 2020
He issued a strongly-worded statement Saturday, condemning the bars and residents responsible and city agencies for a lack of enforcement.
“For the last week, we have seen a select few bars think they can flaunt every rule in the book while the City agencies tasked with enforcing them sit idly by,” Constantinides said.
“Our streets have descended into pure mayhem, the threat of COVID-19 spreading is dangerously high, and Astoria residents are rightfully furious at the relentless noise that goes into the early hours of the morning.”
He said Astoria has descended into “complete chaos” and that a few bars have turned the neighborhood into “one giant resort bar.”
— WA CARTIER 💫 (@WaWacartier) July 18, 2020
Constantinides alerted the mayor’s office, the governor’s office and the State Liquor Authority (SLA) as well, he said.
“Every business that flouts the rules has to be shut down — period.”
On Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted a ‘Three Strikes and You’re Closed’ initiative in which any establishment that receives three violations will be closed down.
This morning, he responded to the chaotic scene along Steinway Street on Twitter, but didn’t say whether the state or SLA would reprimand Brik Astoria or other bars along the strip.
“This is not NY Tough and it sure isn’t NY Smart,” he wrote.
He told the young people partying to “don’t be stupid” at a press briefing this morning and warned that the state could roll back its reopening plan by closing bars and restaurants if the lack of social distancing continues at such establishments.
Cuomo said the local governments must enforce the requirements.
De Blasio also said last week that the cases of COVID-19 are rising among New Yorkers in their 20s — and bar hopping could be a cause.
Council Member Constantinides, who was previously hospitalized for COVID-19 himself, called out young adults partying through the night on the Astoria block.
“To those out there partying until sunrise, stop,” he said. “COVID-19 is still a serious threat, and just because you’re young doesn’t mean you’re invincible.”
He warned that they could pass the deadly virus to others who are more vulnerable.
The Council Member also added that Astoria residents deserve to walk down clean streets safely and go to bed without it sounding like a carnival outside.
“I am sorry that has been taken away from them this week, but we are working to ensure they are afforded that basic right.”
Astoria, NYC over the weekend. Please make this stop. Brik Astoria should lose their liquor license – covid is real and I don’t want it back @NYGovCuomo @aoc @NYCMayor @melissadderosa @AnchorAngi @NY1 @NYC_Patch @ABC7NY @CBSNewYork #pleaseretweet #astoria pic.twitter.com/ZWSkzE0Qlo
— Michelina (@Michelina9093) July 14, 2020