Upper East Side

Crowds Caught Gathering Outside New York City Bars Push Social Distancing Boundaries

NBC Universal, Inc.

A new threat to social distancing emerged in New York City over the weekend: crowding outside of bars.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has reiterated at his daily briefings that New Yorkers overwhelmingly adhere to social distancing and follow instruction when engaged by social distancing ambassadors and the NYPD.

On Saturday, however, images emerged of large groups outside popular bars in Manhattan drinking to-go beverages and ignoring social distancing rules. The sunny weather clearly no help to pent-up New Yorkers, most two months into isolation.

Heavily crowded parks with varied face covering and social distancing enforcement were photographed in recent weeks, many images catching widespread attention on social media. These were seemingly replaced on Saturday by pictures of dozens crowded outside bars, restaurants and across sidewalks in neighborhoods like the Upper East Side where NBC New York found an abundance of social distancing violators.

Mayor de Blasio said he heard reports of very few problems on New York City beaches Sunday but "the bars is a different matter," adding a full report from the day's enforcement had not made it to the mayor yet.

"The police department will be out, the sheriff's office will be out watching very carefully on the Upper East Side in particular," he added. "We're not going to tolerate people congregating. It's as simple as that."

In at least one instance, a restaurant appeared to let diners sit inside.

"If we have instances where there is not compliance I want to know about it," de Blasio said Sunday. "I want any New Yorker who sees any place allowing dining in to call 311 immediately and they will be visited immediately with inspectors and there will be serious fines. If we have to shut places down we will."

Going into the weekend Mayor de Blasio said police would start limiting access to Central Park's Sheep Meadow, along with Hudson River Park Piers 45 and 46. Nearly 2,300 social distancing ambassadors and supervisors have been deployed.

Streets closed around Domino Park to allowing more space for pedestrians to move about safely.Ken Buffa reports.

At Domino Park in Brooklyn, streets were closed to cars giving pedestrians additional space to move about safely while circles have been created across the park six feet apart to support social distancing.

"People have been home for the last two months, they're tired and they want to get some fresh air," said Brooklyn resident Scott Krivisky. "And they want to live their life. If you do the right thing protecting yourself you're going to have a wonderful, wonderful time."

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