The owners of a bar in New York City have declared the bar an “autonomous zone” after being fined and stripped of their liquor license for violating the city’s coronavirus restrictions.
Keith McAlarney and Danny Presti, the owners of Mac’s Public House in Staten Island, posted signs Nov. 20 labeling their business an “autonomous zone” and declaring that they “refuse to abide by any rules and regulations” put in place by Democrats New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio or New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The bar is located in an “orange zone,” where coronavirus regulations prohibit indoor dining and limit outdoor dining to tables of four people or fewer, ABC News reported. (RELATED: Supreme Court Orders New York To End COVID-19 Restrictions That Discriminate Against Churches, Synagogues)
Despite the restrictions, the owners continued to allow customers inside to eat and drink in what they say is a move necessary to save their business.
“Every day small businesses are living in fear, not just of this virus, but that our governments will take our livelihoods away, even as we’re being safe,” the bar owners said on Facebook. “Just to clarify, we acknowledge this virus as a real threat and are still taking necessary precautions. What we do not acknowledge is that our government has the right to shut us down when we’re operating in a safe manner.”
Patrons are welcome to come to Mac’s Public House to eat and drink for free, Presti said in a video reported by ABC News. “We just ask that you do make a donation toward us so that we can still pay our bills,” he said. The bar owners also set up a GoFundMe page, which had raised over $9,300 as of Monday evening.
In a YouTube video posted Nov. 25, the owners said they were “visited by what seemed to be every sheriff in the whole state” and fined $15,000 for remaining open. The bar’s liquor license was suspended Friday after a State Liquor Authority (SLA) investigator was refused entry to the bar and reported that customers were inside, ABC reported.
“In order to protect New Yorkers’ health and safety during this public health emergency, the SLA suspended Mac’s Public House’s liquor license, and the Department of Health issued a Section 16 Order after investigators found the premises flagrantly violating COVID-related regulations in the Staten Island Orange Zone,” the SLA told ABC News in a Monday statement.
“These rules are designed to protect New Yorkers during a dangerous increase in COVID cases, and ignoring them just a week after we had to open a surge hospital on Staten Island not only demonstrates an utter disregard for New Yorkers’ health but is clearly illegal,” they reportedly added. “The State is working with the NYPD and NYC Sheriff’s office to monitor compliance.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been at least 316,724 confirmed coronavirus cases and 24,274 virus-related deaths in New York City, according to a New York Times coronavirus tracker. There has been a 36% increase in the number of cases in the city over the 7-day period beginning November 23, the Times reported.
Mac’s Public House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.