Beware: denizens of the greatest city in the world—continued acts of defiant public eating and/or drinking will now be punishable by citation and arrest.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued an order on Monday instructing the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to fine and arrest brazen restaurant patrons who attempt to dine in during a time of clampdowns over the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
“On March 12, 2020 the Mayor declared a state of emergency in New York City due to the public health concerns surrounding the coronavirus,” a Monday order from de Blasio reads. “Today, the Mayor signed an Executive Order declaring all establishments that serve food or drink, including restaurants, bars and cafes to stop serving customers inside their establishments. Only delivery service and take out will be permissible so long as the number of people waiting in the establishment does not exceed 50 percent of the establishment’s occupancy or seating capacity.”
The order goes on to proscribe additional shut-downs in effect for various other sorts of venues and outlines that all of the closures and new rules will go into effect at 8 p.m.
As for people and businesses who refuse? The order offers the NYPD various ways to force compliance.
“In the event that establishments violate the terms of this Executive Order, there are several enforcement options,” the order notes—keying those options toward patrons and operators of drinking and dining businesses. Those options range from a summons for disorderly conduct to being arrested for the same misdemeanor.
The order notes: “If patrons refuse to leave the establishment, they may be issued a summons [for] refusing a lawful order to disperse.”
“Patrons who act disorderly or impede Members of the Service from carrying out the directives” of the order will be “subject to arrest,” the document continues.
Violations will be treated as crimes under the emergency statute of New York City–and are punishable by up to three months in prison and/or a $500 fine. Police also have the authority to claim such rule-breaking as a violation of New York State Law–which could result in a year in jail and/or three years probation and/or a $1,000 fine.
Another power available to the NYPD is to tell people to leave if it appears that any given venue is presently over capacity—and the ability to shut down businesses that refuse to comply.
”Members of the Service are authorized to order establishments to be vacated or to rectify the violation, such as ceasing in-house dining but permitting take-out service to continue,” the Monday order notes.
“While the [NYPD] typically does not issue [such] summonses for [such] misdemeanors, doing so is permitted by law,” the directive goes on–eschewing leniency due to the circumstances. “If the operator fails to comply with an order to correct the violation or vacate the premises, the operator may be arrested and issued a [Desk Appearance Ticket].”
[image via Spencer Platt and Getty-Images]