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De Blasio Threatens NYC Bars Reopening: ‘If We Have To Shut Places Down, We Will’
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2020/05/16: Mayor Bill de Blasio addresses City Parks employees in Flushing Meadows Corona Park amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New Yorkers have clearly had their fill of the COVID-19 lockdown orders and are now beginning to openly rebel by attending bars and other establishments, willing to risk the government’s ire in the process.

Over the weekend, city residents crowded several bars and flouted social distancing measures by huddling in close without masks, prompting Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio to threaten a forceful shutdown. The bars were open after the city relaxed social distancing enforcement over the weekend amid a spate of violent arrests that sparked outrage for being predominantly against people of color.

“We’re not going to tolerate people starting to congregate. It’s as simple as that,” the mayor said, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter (THR).  “If we have to shut places down, we will.”

The mayor asked people to call the 311 hotline to report any businesses in violation of social distancing guidelines – the same hotline that people flooded with obscene messages shortly after its announcement.

“If you start to form groups of people and then two, three, five and then it becomes six, it becomes 10, it becomes 15 — that violates what we’re saying about social distancing and that puts lives in danger,” de Blasio said.

Mayor de Blasio’s tough talk on social distancing comes days after a New York Times report detailed his resistance to taking action at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic after Dr. Mitchell Katz, the head of New York City’s public hospital system, advised him that shutting down events would only hurt the economy while failing to stop the spread of COVID-19:

The mayor did not order major closures, including of schools and restaurants, until almost a week after the email — a delay that epidemiologists say allowed the virus to spread. …

The mayor last week shocked the Health Department by taking away its authority to oversee contact tracing, giving the job to Health and Hospitals, the agency overseen by Dr. Katz. It is a monumental task: The city must build and run an army of some 2,500 people to track and trace the close contacts of every infected person.

The mayor’s decision to shift the responsibility to the public hospital system illustrated how Mr. de Blasio’s faith in Dr. Katz’s leadership abilities took precedence over the experience and knowledge of his public health officials, who have clashed with the mayor over a variety of issues.

Similar “social distancing violations” are being reported in other states. Last week, after the Wisconsin state Supreme Court struck down Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ lockdown order, people were seen flooding the bars in the hours thereafter.

“Live video showed guests standing and sitting close to one another around the bar while dancing, drinking and singing to music. The establishment wrote that it was serving at least two dozen people within an hour of reopening,” reported Fox News.

Chad Ardnt, owner of the Iron Hog Saloon, says he decided to reopen the establishment because he has been unable to pay his nine employees for weeks now. While Ardnt says he has improved cleaning protocols, video taken by WISN showed customers not wearing face masks, which, of course, is particularly hard to do when eating and drinking.

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