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‘Party’s over’: Officers head to Astoria for social distancing enfacement after crowds hit the streets

Astoria queens crowds social distancing
Posted at 9:24 PM, Jul 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-19 22:31:48-04

ASTORIA, Queens — Officers patrolled Astoria on Sunday after crowds of people ignored social distancing guidelines and gathered there earlier in the weekend.

Videos show hundreds of people near 28th Avenue and Steinway Street. Many of them were maskless and stood less than six feet apart. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday that the battle against COVID-19 wasn't over and that he'd take action in the neighborhood to enforce social distancing.

"Party’s over." he tweeted. "Dedicated sheriff patrols will be on Steinway until further notice. They’ll enforce closing times, issue summonses and work with the NYPD to keep the roadways clear. We haven’t beaten COVID-19 yet. We can’t let up now."

Officers served the owner of Brik Astoria with a transportation commissioner order for noncompliance of social distancing rules, barring the popular restaurant from serving diners at outdoor tables for one week. Owner John Zorbas said being made into a scapegoat for other people’s bad behavior. He pointed to loud motorcycles and music blaring from passing cars and a woman who set up a makeshift bar from the trunk of her car.

“There is only so much we can do as a business,” Zorbas said. “We are following the guidelines, but how far down the street are we responsible for to make sure things are OK?"

Brik Astoria employee Emanuel Pippis, who works Astoria, said they needed help.

"We need police out here,” Pippis said. "I can only police the street so much."

The crackdown in Astoria came on the eve of Phase 4 of reopening in New York City. Indoor dining, which was initially slated to begin during Phase 3, remains indefinitely on hold.