Hundreds protest closing of Staten Island bar that refused Covid-19 measures

Hundreds of protesters gathered on Wednesday night outside a Staten Island bar that shut down after refusing to follow Covid-19 measures, authorities said.

The large demonstration came a day after Mac’s Public House, a bar in an area where the city prohibits indoor dining, was forced to close its doors after it violated multiple health and liquor laws, the New York City Sheriff’s Office said.

The protesters, some of whom weren’t wearing masks, blocked traffic and demanded the business reopen as deputies stood outside the tavern. The bar had operated without a liquor license and served patrons food and alcohol indoors past the city’s 10 p.m. curfew, NBC New York reported.

The crowd also took aim at Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for enforcing Covid-19 restrictions on indoor dining services, according to the station.

New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito said no arrests or summons were issued during Wednesday’s protests.

On Tuesday, four people were charged with violation of emergency and executive orders, failure to observe order, and failure to protect health and safety, according to the sheriff’s office.

The general manager, Danny Presti, 34, was also charged with obstruction of governmental administration, the sheriff’s office said.

Mac’s Public House and Presti did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Nov. 22, Mac’s Pub posted a photo on its Facebook page, saying that the establishment was an “autonomous zone” — a reference to the Seattle protesters who claimed control over a neighborhood in the city in June.

“We refuse to abide by any rules and regulations put forth by the Mayor of NYC and Governor of NY State,” the sign read.

Mitch Schwartz, a spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio’s Office, said the coronavirus doesn’t care about borders.

“COVID-19 doesn’t respect autonomous zones, and neither does the Sheriff,” Schwartz said in an email.

Jack Sterne, a spokesperson for Cuomo’s office, said in an email that the owner’s actions have consequences.

“Breaking the law and putting your neighbors’ lives at risk during a global pandemic to make a political statement is simply unacceptable,” he said.

The protests came about two weeks after New York City opened a field hospital in Staten Island due to a spike in hospitalizations.

Between Nov. 23 to 29, the neighborhoods of Lighthouse Hill, Midland Beach, New Dorp, and Oakwood — where Mac’s Public House is located — reported a 7-day positive Covid-19 rate of 7.62 percent, according to New York City data.


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