Staten Island bar shut down after declaring itself an ‘autonomous zone’ and defying Covid-19 rules, sheriff’s office says

A Staten Island bar was shut down after calling itself an “autonomous zone” and defying Covid-19 restrictions, the New York City Sheriff’s Office said.

The bar, Mac’s Public House, was also not following face covering rules and social distancing guidelines while continuing to allow indoor dining despite being in a designated “orange zone,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

An executive order by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo allows only outdoor dining of up to four people per table at businesses in areas designated as orange zones.

The bar has refused to shut down because the restrictions have impacted business, said Louis Gelormino, a lawyer representing the bar.

“They opened two months before Covid and spent $150,000 to open the place,” Gelormino said. “About a week ago, they refused to close down the place and abide by those state restrictions.”

On November 22, the bar declared itself an “autonomous zone” and said it wouldn’t abide by state and city Covid-19 regulations. The bar posted signs outside and on social media where it declared autonomy and encouraged customers to come to the bar for food and drink and to show support, according to the sheriff’s department. The “autonomous zone” designation was a term the bar chose to describe itself.

Supporters gathered around Mac’s Public House after it was shut down Tuesday in support of employees in a protest that remained peaceful, according to the sheriff’s department. Protests continued outside the bar on Wednesday evening.

Danny Presti, the bar’s general manager, was arrested for allegedly violating the governor’s executive order and for disorderly conduct after refusing to leave the bar, the sheriff’s office said. Presti was issued appearance tickets and released, the sheriff’s office said.

Each employee in the bar was also given a $5,000 summons for allegedly violating the governor’s executive order, according to Gelormino, who said the bar also got three summonses related to the order for $15,000. Gelormino, who said he was at the scene during the arrests, was also handed summonses for violating the executive order, he said.

Prior to the arrests and shutdown, plain clothes deputies from the sheriff’s department observed multiple patrons consuming food and alcoholic beverages in violation of city and state restrictions, according to the sheriff’s department.

Presti was interviewed on Fox News during the latest protests and was asked if the bar was currently open.

“Even if we wanted to try and get in there, there is a blockade of about 25 sheriffs standing in front with barriers, so there’s no way anybody could get in right now,” Presti said.

The bar’s liquor license was suspended on November 27 by the New York State Liquor Authority after an investigator from the department saw the bar’s defiance of Covid-19 regulations, according to an order issued by the liquor authority.

The bar will remain closed until it submits a Corrective Action Plan to the New York City Department of Health, specifying how it will follow state and city Covid-19 directives and guidelines. If and when the bar gets approval, it can resume operations, according to the sheriff’s department.

“The sheriffs and state liquor association reached out to me Monday to avoid any incidents and we talked,” Gelormino said.

He said he called both offices Tuesday morning but didn’t get a response. Gelormino has not responded to questions about the status of the bar’s plans to reopen or if it will begin to follow the state’s Covid-19 restrictions.

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