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Queens restaurant owner fights back against COVID fines

Posted at 11:09 PM, Jan 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-06 23:09:05-05

LONG ISLAND CITY, Queens — The only tables available in the city are outside.

With indoor dining suspended until further notice and cold weather here to stay, restaurants are counting on take out and outdoor dining.

Various types of structures have appeared around the city.

Bella Via on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City recently expanded its outdoor area at the corner of 48th Avenue.

The day after Christmas, owner Sal Polito received a notice that his liquor license had been temporarily suspended.

“They don’t give a warning to fix this in 24 hours or get shut down. That I would understand,” he says.

Inspectors found the exterior sliding panels and doors were not open and people were seated to eat.

Outdoor dining regulation require at least two open sides on any outdoor structure.

The State Liquor Authority is one of the agencies that does inspections. A spokesperson says these rules are designed to protect New Yorkers and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

He could pay a $5,000 fine and the liquor license would be reinstated. Polito has requested a hearing to present his case.

He hopes the fine will not add to his growing pile of bills six months rent and state sales tax. His November utility bill was more than $5,000 and that’s before it got cold.