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WPCNR CORONAVIRUS REPORT. From the Governor’s Office. January 16, 2020:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced new regulations for bars and restaurants in New York City to ensure they are complying with state social distancing and face covering orders.

As part of the ‘Three Strikes and You’re Closed’ initiative, any establishment that receives three violations will be closed for business.

Egregious violations can result in immediate loss of liquor license or closure before a third strike. Additionally, any establishment facing disciplinary charges by the State Liquor Authority will have its name and location posted publicly and updated on a weekly basis. If the state is alerted to similar noncompliance in other regions of the state, these restrictions will be extended to those areas immediately.

The Governor also announced that all restaurants and bars statewide will be subject to new requirements that they must only serve alcohol to people who are ordering and eating food and that all service at bar tops must only be for seated patrons who are socially distanced by six feet or separated by physical barriers. 

Under current law, only establishments that serve food are permitted to serve alcoholic beverages. Citizens who see violations or are concerned can report complaints, including photos, to the State Liquor Authority at

The Governor also announced that a decision will be made on New York City entering phase four by tomorrow, July 17th. If New York City is approved to enter phase four on Monday, the state will not allow any additional indoor activity, such as malls and cultural institutions.

The Governor also announced that travel form compliance went up to 92 percent after the state announced fines for failure to complete the form.  

(Earlier this week, the Governor announced out-of-state travelers from the 22 designated states with the highest infection rates must provide local authorities with contact information upon entering New York to help enforce quarantining or they’ll face a fine of up to $2,000 if they don’t supply that information.)

AUDIO of the Governor’s remarks is available here.

A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:

Governor Cuomo: Thank you, thank you very much, operator. Thank all of you for being with us today. I have on the telephone – Budget Director Robert Mujica, Department of Financial Services head Linda Lacewell, and State Liquor Authority head Vince Bradley. We also have a special guest: Mayor Sylvester Turner from Houston, Texas. And it’s our pleasure to have him on for a few minutes. The mayor and I have been talking about the COVID situation.

As you know, Texas has significant issues. Harris County, where Houston is located, has one of the worst problems in Texas and I’ve been talking to the mayor. I said, anyway we can help, we offer our assistance in New York.

New Yorkers are very grateful for what everyone did across this country to help New York when we needed help. Over 30,000 volunteers – we’ll never forget it. And that’s the way America should operate. That’s America at its best.

We sent teams down to Houston. They’ve been on the ground for a few days. I want to thank all the nurses and doctors that went down. We had them go down from the Greater New York Hospital Association from Mount Sinai, from Montefiore, from Northwell.

And they’ve been working on setting up testing sites and doing what we did here where we partnered with churches – especially in low-income communities. What we find all-too-often across the country is that, lower-income communities have a higher rate of infection. So, working with churches in the communities has turned out very well to set up testing sites and getting people to come in.

We also sent out PPE – sent down PPE, hand sanitizer, testing kits, etc. And the mayor says it’s been helpful. I want to say to you, Mr. Mayor – all New Yorkers stand with you in solidarity. Anything you need, know that we are here and you can call on us. Unfortunately, we learned these lessons in New York the hard way. We had to go through it.

Why we have to repeat the mistake across the country, I have no idea. But it’s unfortunate, but we are where we are. We’ll deal with it, and then we’ll right the wrongs afterwards. But it’s been a pleasure to work with you, mayor, and we’re not going anywhere. We’re here, so anything you need going forward – but I’m glad we were able to help. Mayor Turner.

Mayor Turner: Thank you, Governor Cuomo. And let me just start out by acknowledging and thanking you for the leadership that you provided to the State of New York and quite frankly, the leadership that you provided to all of us across the country. I’ve watched your daily briefings on a regular basis.

I learned a lot from what you have done and your people have done in New York, so let me commend all of you for your efforts. Let me also thank you for the support that you all are providing to the City of Houston here in Harris County. As you indicated, we are facing a situation where our numbers have surged. More people have been testing positive, showing up in our hospitals and our ICUs. Testing is a big issue.

And you’re also right that this virus is having a disproportional impact on communities of color, low-income communities, and where even more testing is needed. And people – a lot of people – who are wanting testing, needing testing and they’ve having to wait a long time. So, let me thank you and your team for reaching out, you know. You all did not wait for example on us to call you all. You reached out to us in the City of Houston.

So, I want to thank you for your teams that are already on the ground since the past weekend. I want to thank you for the doctors, the nurses, the staff, the PPE that you have all already sent. There are two testing sites that you always have to stand up: one in northwest Houston at Fallbrook Church; another in southwest Houston Higher Dimension Church. Those testing sites are up and running. They started them yesterday and they’ll be up and running for the next two weeks. The reports that I’ve received, people are taking full advantage of those testing sites and those sites will help us out immensely. So, thank you, Governor Como. Thank you. Thank the people of New York. I really appreciate it. And I will tell same to you just like you are paying it forward, we will pay it forward as well so thank you so very, very much.

Governor Cuomo: Thank you, my friend. You stay strong. Anything you need you know where to find us and as soon as we get past this I’ll come down and visit with you. It would be my pleasure to come back to Houston. I have a lot of good memories. I did a lot of good work when I was HUD Secretary. You have a great city. We’ll get through this will be the better for it so God bless you, Mr. mayor. Thank you. Thank you for your leadership, sir. It’s been a pleasure to watch what you are doing for the people of Houston. I’m proud of you.

Mayor Turner: Thank you, Governor.

Governor Cuomo: Thank you. Thank you, sir. Okay, let me make a few announcements and then we’ll take questions.

The big picture is that nobody could have expected that we would be in the situation that we’re in today. We had spoken at the beginning about the potential for a second wave of COVID. The second wave we anticipated was that the virus would mutate and come back in a mutated form. That was the second wave theory, the global pandemic of 1918, the virus mutated and came back for a second wave. What we’re experiencing is something different.

This is a second wave, but this is a situation where we just failed to learn the lessons of the first wave. We failed to learn that we missed the virus in the first place. That it was coming from Europe and then New York showed what you needed to do. You needed to close down, you needed to come up with testing, you needed to come up with contact tracing and attack this virus with the same strength that it was attacking us. We failed to do that.

The virus is now spreading and states all across the country and now we’re fearing a second wave which is really just the rebound from those states and the increased infection coming back to New York. That’s not what we were anticipating as a second wave. This is just a rebound of the first wave, rather than the wave coming from the East and hitting New York, the wave is going to come from the West and hit New York and it’s going to be man-made, all self-created.

There’s no reason for this nation to be going through what it’s going through now. We learned these lessons months ago. Months ago. Remember the first case was back in January and here we are in July and states still don’t have testing and contact tracing, don’t have the PPE, don’t have the medical equipment.

We had seven months to get ready. Seven months to get ready. And many places in this country are just as unprepared as they were seven months ago. And that’s one of the things we’re worried about in New York is the virus coming from the states with the high infection rates.

It’s our pleasure to help Houston, to help Atlanta, to help states across the nation deal with it. It’s the right thing to do as Americans. It’s also in our self-interest because we are all in this together and if people get infected in Arizona or Houston or Atlanta and get on a plane and come to New York, now it’s New York’s problem. So, that’s the situation we’re dealing with. Our numbers are good but what we are looking at – what we’re dealing with is the potential of a “second wave,” from these other states.

Today’s day 138. New York conducted 72,000 tests yesterday and again that is per capita higher than any state higher than any country. We said New York Smart – smart means get the facts, get the data, act on the data, and we have more data and smarter data than any other state that’s dealing with this. Of the 72,685 tests, 769 were positive. That’s just about 1 percent, 1.06. 14 New Yorkers passed away yesterday which again we don’t want to see any New Yorkers pass away but compared to where we were with this disease, where we had 800 deaths in a single day we’re obviously in a much, much better position. 813 New Yorkers were hospitalized – that’s down 18 from the previous day, so that is all good news as far as we’re concerned.

But again, New York Smart, look ahead and be prepared. We still have an issue with compliance. I once again call on the local government officials to make sure they are doing compliance enforcement. I understand that there’s tension with police departments and ongoing demonstrations after Mr. Floyd’s murder. I understand that. But we can deal with that situation and still enforce the law.

We have to and these, the compliance enforcement of these rules and regulations is essential. If we do not enforce compliance the virus will spread. It is that simple. If you eat a piece of cheesecake today, you will see it on the scale tomorrow. Our actions create the response of the virus.

So local governments need to be diligent and I ask them to do that once again. I am asking them to do it publicly. I am asking them to do it privately. I understand enforcement is not politically popular. I’ll tell you what’s less politically popular: if we have to close down a region because compliance wasn’t done. That would be less politically popular.

New York City, we have compliance issues and we’re going to announce a couple of actions today. We have additional regulations on the bars and restaurants. That is a primary area where we’re seeing problems with compliance and we’re taking additional actions.

As you know we’ve been stepping up enforcement on bars and restaurants. Bars and restaurants are licensed by the State Liquor Authority. Bradley is on the telephone. New York City, we let bars and restaurants open for outdoor service on June 22. There is significant evidence of failure to comply. The State itself has looked at over 5,000 establishments in downstate New York and found many cases of a failure to comply. It’s wrong. It’s dangerous. It’s selfish. It’s unacceptable. It’s also illegal, so today beginning in New York City we’re going to enact a “three strikes and you’re closed.”

Any establishment that receives three violations will be closed for business.

Egregious violations can still result in an immediate loss of a liquor license but three violations and you’re closed. We’re also going to post the names of the establishments facing disciplinary charges.

New Yorkers are outraged at these establishments. We’re getting thousands of complains, pictures, videos, et cetera. This is a question of public health and New Yorkers paid a dear price for COVID and they are equally upset with these violations.

Also, today all establishments must only serve alcohol to people who are also ordering food. The concept here was bars and restaurants would be allowed to do outdoor dining. That is a dining situation.

You go with several people, you sit at a table and you have a meal. That would limit the exposure to the people at that table and then the tables are socially distanced. That’s if you’re eating a meal – if you’re not eating a meal and you’re just drinking, then it’s just an outdoor bar and people are mingling and they’re not isolated and individual tables, and that’s what we’re seeing.

Also, no walk-up bar service – all service at bar tops must be only for seated patrons who are socially distanced by six feet. So those regulations will go into effect. Second, in New York City – New York City is headed for Phase 4 on Monday. We will have a definitive announcement as to whether or not New York City goes into Phase 4 by 4 o’clock tomorrow. We want to get the numbers from tomorrow, we want to have them analyzed, and we’ll make that announcement at 4 o’clock tomorrow, so businesses would have noticed for Monday. At this rate they are on track to enter Phase 4, but we will not know until we get the final data and we get it analyzed.

In any event, even if we going to Phase 4 on Monday, we are not going to allow any additional indoor activity. Phase Four opens malls, cultural institutions. If we go into Phase 4, we would go into Phase 4 without any additional indoor activity. We are still seeing issues not just in the bars and restaurants, but all across the country, you see as these inside, interior spaces, air-conditioned spaces where the virus is tending to spread. So, we’re going to take that precaution in New York City.

We are also announcing today a national advertising campaign for people to wear masks.

This campaign is not just in New York, these ads will run all across the country and they really are special. I had the opportunity to see them. Jane Rosenthal, we want to thank, who is the producer and CEO of Tribeca Enterprises. Jane organized this and got it together. We have an Academy Award winning director Kathryn Bigelow to directed the ads. The Ad Council will be distributing the ads.

I also want to thank the actors who lent their talent to these ads. Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Jeffrey Wright, Anthony Mackie, Ellen Pompeo, John Leguizamo, Rosie Perez, Jamie Foxx and Kaitlyn Dever. But they are great – they are making the point about wear a mask.

The IHME projection which is used by the White House said 40,000 more Americans will die than would have died if we had a national mask policy. Just imagine that. Some states are saying, local governments can’t mandate masks.

I mean we’re still playing politics with this COVID virus after all of this which is really shocking and disturbing. Also, we are fully enforcing our quarantine rules against the 22 states with a high infection rate.

We’ve made progress and we’re now up to about a 92 percent compliance, but I want to make sure people know who are coming to New York, we’re very serious about that.

Also, we’re troubled by the cybersecurity attacks, the Twitter hack. That is frightening and that can be highly disruptive, and the Department of Financial Services in New York has jurisdiction and I am directing them today to do a full investigation of those Twitter hacks. They have significant consequences for the security of our financial system, as well as our election system, but it can really wreak havoc. So DFS will be doing that.

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