Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state announced for Long Island to enter Phase 3 that allowed indoor dining and personal care at 50 percent capacity on June 17, and Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone noted in a press conference on Zoom on Monday that the restaurant industry is in serious need of an economic boost of this kind.
“These are businesses that obviously have been struggling,” Bellone said. “Many people have been unemployed. Getting this industry back up and going is a good thing. Of course, we need to do it safely.”
Referencing the county’s infection rate currently below 1 percent, Bellone said the numbers are moving in the right direction.
“But that will be dependent on people following the guidance and using common sense,” Bellone said. “We will take the same approach that we are enforcing, but we are working to educate and advise businesses as we do with the public about what guidance is and the importance of following it. At the end of the day, we need people to be smart and to do the right thing.”
Bellone also noted that there were 33 positive testings for COVID-19 in the county in the 24 hours before Monday’s press conference, which is an encouraging sign considering the previous benchmark of 100.
“[We have been] staying well below that, even under 50 the last couple of days and weeks,” he said.
In that same 24 hours, seven people in the county died from COVID-19. The total deaths from COVID-19 in Suffolk County are inching close to 2,000. Also, in that same 24 hours, the county distributed 8,000 pieces of personal protective equipment.
When asked about enforcing the capacity limits for indoor dining, Bellone said that fines will be distributed if necessary.
“I don’t think any business wants to be in a position where potentially their liquor license could be suspended or revoked, and they certainly do not want to be contributing to preventing moving forward through the phases,” Bellone said. “We are really moving in a positive direction, and we want to keep that going. Overwhelmingly, we have gotten great compliance from businesses when we have been called out.”
The Department of Health will be resending the guidelines to businesses to ensure they are fully aware of what is required under the state’s executive orders.