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Hoylman: Enforce open-container law outside bars — now!

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | To-go booze could go bye-bye, if it was up to Brad Hoylman.

The state Senator is furious after seeing a video showing social-distance defying revelers partying on St. Mark’s Place and packing the street.

Hoylman’s district contains the East Village. He also happens to be the main sponsor of a bill to extend takeout alcohol for an additional two years. But now, he says, he’s seriously reconsidering that idea.

In March, per Governor Cuomo’s executive order, the State Liquor Authority temporarily changed its regulations to allow bars and restaurants to offer both takeout and delivery alcohol. The order originally was set to expire on Sat., June 27, unless it gets extended, which Cuomo certainly can do.

Instead of the governor having to repeatedly extend the provision, though, Hoylman had wanted to offer a longer-term extension through a legislative change.

However, the state senator now is saying he might modify his bill to allow alcohol delivery only — and just scrap the takeout part. Plus, he says, it’s time to crack down “immediately” on people drinking outside and turning New York into Bourbon St. And he said Cuomo should not grant an extension if the problem persists.

The video, published by local blog EV Grieve, shows crowds lining the street between First Ave. and Avenue A on Friday night. Many are not wearing masks as they schmooze and swill alcohol from to-go cups.

The action in the video is centered around East Village Social, a bar known for its live music. However, during the “New York State on Pause,” the bands have been playing on the sidewalk in front of the place, drawing ever-larger crowds.

A month ago, The Village Sun reported that bands — like the East Village All-Stars, featuring a Satchmo-styling Smidge on trumpet — had been playing outside the bar; but the crowds in the street were smaller back then.

In early May, the crowd on St. Mark’s Place in front of East Village Social was much smaller. (Photo by The Village Sun)
In mid-May, the East Village All-Stars jammed in front of East Village Social. The banjo player took his mask down to sing on this number. The trumpet player, Smidge, well, it’s kind of hard for him to wear a mask. The guy at far left — maybe an owner or manager — was diligently spraying the outside of the bar with disinfectant. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Hoylman called the video — and others like it, showing crowds outside bars in other parts of town — “disturbing.”

“It’s dangerous and irresponsible to abandon social distancing while the pandemic continues to rage,” Hoylman warned. “The State Liquor Authority should immediately bring inspectors to Manhattan to assess the situation and work to enforce open-container laws.

“New Yorkers are dying every day from COVID-19,” he stressed. “As the senator who represents much of the heart of Manhattan, I know small businesses are hurting. But there’s no excuse for the large crowds we’ve seen congregating on St. Mark’s Place and elsewhere in Manhattan. In the middle of a pandemic, that’s putting lives at risk. … A liquor license is a privilege that comes with a significant responsibility to protect the public interest.

“If these violations of social distancing continue, Governor Cuomo should immediately reconsider his executive order permitting takeout and delivery alcohol service,” Hoylman declared. “As the Senate sponsor of legislation that would extend this executive order for two years, I’m reassessing whether to amend it to limit it to alcohol delivery only and ban to-go sales, to have the legislation apply only outside New York City, or to withdraw the bill altogether. In doing so, I will continue working closely with community boards and local stakeholders to determine the best way forward.

“My bill was meant to be a lifeline for restaurants and bars facing extinction because of COVID-19,” Hoylman stated, “not an opportunity for these establishments to totally disregard open-container laws and social-distancing requirements. The failures of these establishments to follow the law will create a public health disaster, not to mention creating noise and quality-of-life issues.

“Restaurants and bars need to get their act together,” he declared. “Public health is too important to get this wrong.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of Downtown, takeout alcohol is also raising alarms in the West Village, which is also in Hoylman’s District 27. In an op-ed piece on Friday in The Village Sun, local resident Nancy Pasley said bar and restaurant owners on Hudson St. and Seventh Ave. South are “boldly hosting on-street drinking parties.”

“Many bars and restaurants now put out multiple tables and chairs — by the dozens, in some places — for the revelers,” Pasley wrote. “The crowds completely block the sidewalks, forcing pedestrians into the street, even those using wheelchairs or with babies in strollers.”

A crowd with takeout drinks jammed the sidewalk outside Wild restaurant, at Hudson and Charles Sts., on Sun., June 7. (Photo by V.C.)
The scene outside Suprema, on Seventh Ave. South near Bleecker St., on Sun., June 7. (Photo by V.C.)

Some places are blaring loud music outside, too, she said.

In her piece, she argues that takeout alcohol should be cut off once bars and restaurants reopen.

“In short, a permission intended as a temporary lifeline is being widely abused,” Pasley wrote. “Rather than extended, it should be terminated once the restaurants and bars are allowed to serve at tables indoors and the reason for it has expired, and the abusers should be penalized.”

5 Comments

  1. Georgette Fleischer Georgette Fleischer June 14, 2020

    I’m relieved to hear that Senator Hoylman is reconsidering his bill to extend takeout alcohol for an additional two years. The New York State Liquor Authority cannot be counted on to enforce the fallout of such a bill.
    Petrosino Square, which is in Senator Kavanagh’s neighboring district, is experiencing its own version of the East Village scene in E.V. Grieve’s video. By late morning yesterday, pretty much every establishment with a sidewalk café license around Petrosino Square had patrons sprawled out, far beyond the parameters of their licenses, with people partying in defiance of social distancing and without masks.
    I’m one of the neighbors with a stroller Nancy Pasley refers to in her cautionary OpEd, and I’m terrified my two-year-old daughter will become collateral COVID damage in this spreading scene of outdoor revelry.
    Instead of business as usual, can we please consider public health and safety first?

    Georgette Fleischer
    President, Friends of Petrosino Square

  2. Jack Brown Jack Brown June 14, 2020

    Responsible socializing with alcohol is lacking. The authorities need to impose reason and responsibility. Frankly I didn’t miss all the revelry during lockdown Let them drink on Zoom. Don’t impose irresponsible behavior on the public.

    If only the city fathers wouldn’t have swallowed “going green” with an irresponsible bike culture, the streets and sidewalks would be safer and healthier for the public.

    I support Sen Hoylman and Gov Cuomo.

    • David R. Marcus David R. Marcus June 14, 2020

      Hear, hear.

      Senator Hoylman, Your attempt at compassion has been met with total disregard for social responsibility and these ingrates should be made to cease and desist and be cognizant that attempts to return to norms should be tempered by the respect for human life.

      These folks are not ready for accommodation. Keep it shut until the virus is defeated as these folks are not helping the cause — not one selfish, self-centered, dangerous bit.

  3. John Rice John Rice June 14, 2020

    Public health during this time of the worst health crisis in a century SHOULD NOT BE SUPERSEDED BY MASSIVE OUTDOOR RESTAURANT RENT PARTIES. There is no way to enforce this. More than once I’ve seen NYPD patrol cars go past these pandemic parties. One patrol car said through its speaker (this is not community outreach) to keep it on the sidewalk. This only pushed drinkers even closer together. The NYS Liquor Authority does not have enough investigators to be effective. The Senator says enforce it, but how? Perhaps he should be spending weekends in his district trying to enforce the crowds without masks on streets he would never stroll his family through. Takeaway drinks have to GO AWAY ASAP. This is a dangerous misguided policy.

  4. Bill Borock Bill Borock June 14, 2020

    Bill Borock
    June 14, 2020

    The ”Takeout Alcohol” regulation/privilege should NOT be extended once the virus has left us, to the degree that restaurants and bars can open up their doors to hungry and alcohol-thirsty customers.

    Many neighborhoods throughout our city, including my Chelsea, suffer too many times the fate of inebriated patrons stumbling out of establishments and onto to the surrounding residential streets, wrecking havoc and causing a slew of quality of life issues, such as noise, fighting, drunkenness, throwing up, urinating, etc., as they stumble along.

    There is no need to add problems to our neighborhoods by extending the “takeout” alcohol regulation.

    We say to you Governor Cuomo and State Senator Hoylman, “Enough is enough.” The “takeout alcohol” regulation clock has run out its time. Don’t extend it!

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