ALBANY — State officials suspended the liquor licenses of restaurants in Rotterdam and Albany as a result of “egregious” violations of special rules implemented amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Mark’s Grill at 1051 Curry Road in Rotterdam and Andy’s Place at 605 New Scotland Ave. in Albany were both sanctioned Saturday after visits by State Liquor Authority investigators on Friday.
State police and the SLA made 3,964 compliance checks over the weekend and found violations at 34 businesses, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday. Fourteen of those restaurants and bars wound up with liquor license suspensions, bringing to 162 the total number of suspensions through the pandemic.
In an attempt to shame restaurants into compliance, the state has been publicizing these violations — which mostly involve failure to promote social distancing, overcrowding, and not obeying rules imposed on restaurants to slow the spread of the potentially deadly virus.
Most of the suspensions have been in the New York City area, though there have been a few in the Capital Region.
The Governor’s Office said:
Mark’s Grill was operating solely as a bar with no dining, in direct violation of executive orders by Cuomo. When investigators arrived, all 14 bar stools were occupied with no space between them and none of the patrons sitting on them wearing a face covering. A bartender with her face only partly covered served drinks without food while additional patrons were standing near the bar or at hightop tables or were milling about.
Andy’s Place also was operating as a bar-only establishment, serving drinks without food. A bartender without a mask served patrons without masks; investigators ordered drinks as more people entered, left and congregated without masks.
The ownership of Mark’s and Andy’s could not be reached for comment for this story.
In addition to admonishing irresponsible bar and restaurant owners Monday, Cuomo lambasted the federal government for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and federal lawmakers for not moving quickly enough — or potentially at all — to assist state and local governments whose finances have been badly damaged by the crisis. All three points are familiar ones for Cuomo.
He was able to make another familiar point Monday, this one positive: New York continues to show no resurgence of the virus. Just 0.66 percent of test results reported Sunday were positive, he said, the lowest percentage ever and the 17th straight day the positive percentage was less than 1 percent.
It is great progress for a state that was hit earliest by the pandemic and still has the largest death toll in the nation by a wide margin.
New York state accounts for just 3,976 of the 300,671 cases confirmed in all 50 states and U.S. territories in the last seven days, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
CDC data indicate that New York City — home to more than half of those infected with COVID in New York state since March 1 and about two-thirds of those who have died of the virus — has been surpassed by the rest of the state recently, with substantially more infections recorded in the last seven days outside city borders.
Cuomo noted during a briefing Monday that the Western New York region has seen enough of an uptick in positive tests recently that it raises a caution flag. The state is still investigating but so far it appears infection clusters at a steel plant and a food processing plant may be to blame for the uptick, as well as a spate of positives in two nursing homes and among seasonal farm laborers.
In the Capital Region and eastern Mohawk Valley, the seven-day rolling averages of positive test results are:
Albany County 0.5%
Fulton County 0.5%
Montgomery County 0.6%
Rensselaer County 0.7%
Saratoga County 0.3%
Schenectady County 1.5%
Schoharie County 0.0%