Crowds flock to Manhattan bars, restaurants despite social distancing rules

Coronavirus
crowds upper east side bars

A crowd of people gathered outside Green Kitchen on the Upper East Side on Friday, June 12, 2020, sparking concerns about social distancing.

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MANHATTAN — New York officials are urging city residents to follow social distancing rules as crowds once again gathered outside of bars and restaurants in Manhattan Friday night.

From the East Village to the Upper East Side, the summer weather drew New Yorkers to restaurants and bars offering curbside pickup, but many lingered and chatted on the sidewalk while enjoying their takeout.

New York City — widely considered the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak that killed more than 24,000 people statewide — is currently in Phase 1 of the reopening plan.

While curbside pickup of food and alcohol is allowed, outdoor dining is prohibited until the city’s health data improves enough to move into Phase 2.

Restrictions on outdoor gatherings have also been loosened, however, officials say people should still keep 6 feet apart when possible.

That hasn’t stopped social distancing-fatigued New Yorkers from congregating where they can.

St. Mark’s Place in the East Village had a Bourbon Street-like party atmosphere Friday evening, with dozens of people hanging out in the street as a band played on the sidewalk, video shows.

Almost no one in the video was wearing a mask.

Crowds of people were also seen outside of Green Kitchen on the Upper East Side Friday evening.

The restaurant was among several in the neighborhood that also drew crowds in May, prompting an enforcement crackdown by the NYPD.

The NYPD has not responded to PIX11’s request Saturday for enforcement and summons data related to gatherings outside restaurants and bars on Friday.

While not specifically addressing the situation in Manhattan, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday said it’s still too soon for residents to let their guards down.

“I say to the citizens of this state … you have to stay smart. Keep doing what we’re doing. Don’t let up,” Cuomo said during his daily briefing Saturday. “Don’t think, we’ll now we’re reopening everything is fine. The weather is better, everything is fine. I hear New York is doing well. It is, but only because of what you’re doing. That’s been the secret from day one. You stop doing what you’re doing, you’ll see those numbers turn.”

Cuomo later retweeted the video from St. Mark’s Place, threatening: “Don’t make me come down there…”

A spokesman for the governor said the tweet was in response to a request on Twitter for him to “dad shame” folks in the East Village.

The governor also took New Yorkers to task for wearing masks on their chin instead of over their nose and mouth.

“This accomplishes nothing. It’s not a mask,” he said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, tweeted a reminder about social distancing rules Saturday morning.

“It’s a beautiful Saturday, New York City, but remember to be safe: if you have to go outside, wear a face covering and keep a safe distance from others,” de blasio said. “We’re driving COVID-19 rates down but the only way to keep it on the run is to stick with the strategies that are working.”

PIX11’s request for further comment from the mayor’s office regarding the St. Mark’s Place video was not immediately returned.

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