NY Bar Designates Itself ‘Autonomous Zone’ to Avoid COVID-19 Restrictions

The owners of a New York bar in a virus hot spot have declared themselves an “autonomous zone” to defy lockdown restrictions, to save their business, and instead are offering food and booze on the house, but asking visitors for tips and telling authorities they’re not welcome.

After the bar was stripped of their liquor license and fined $1,000 a day by the New York City Sheriff’s Office for breaking lockdown rules, Keith McAlarney and Danny Presti, the owners of Mac’s Public House in the city’s Staten Island borough, believe their self-proclamation makes them immune from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order, ABC News reported. 

“We’re still doing things in a safe way. We’re still open,” Presti said in a YouTube video briefing patrons on the tavern’s status.

Mac’s Public House is located in an “orange zone” in the city which means “restaurants, bars, cafes and other food service establishments can provide outdoor dining and takeout and delivery service only” however, outdoor dining is restricted to tables of four customers or fewer.

In the YouTube video he posted on Friday, the same day his liquor license was revoked, McAlarney said “We’re not backing down. You think you scared me by . . . saying I don’t have a license now to serve liquor now? Well guess what? That liquor license is on the wall. If that liquor license is gonna come off the wall, it’s gonna be done by Cuomo. You wanna come down here and pull that license off the wall?” McAlarney says in a YouTube video posted Friday, the same day the bar’s liquor license was yanked.

“De Bozo,” he continued, referring to Mayor de Blasio, “you want to come down here and pull the license off the wall?” “Feel free to end up comin’ down, and we’ll end up having a conversation before you even think about stepping foot on my property. I will not back down.”

Presti said he and McAlarney have no intention of abiding by the rules or paying fines levied against them and called the restrictions “unconstitutional.”

Similar to the anti-cop radicals in Seattle who established a month long law enforcement-free “autonomous zone” the owners painted an orange square on the sidewalk outside the tavern’s door that includes the words “autonomous zone.”

The proprietors, who opened their bar a year ago after conducting major renovations on the space, posted a sign in the bar’s front window, which says “We refuse to abide by any rules and regulations put forth by the Mayor of NYC and the Governor of NY State,”

“It doesn’t seem like we can do business,” Presti said in the video. “So here’s what we’re going to do for everybody: We’re going to give away everything for free. So now you can come to Mac’s Public House, and you can eat for free and you can drink for free. We just ask that you do make a donation toward us so that we can still pay our bills.”



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About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met and married an American journalist and moved to D.C. from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A. in Graphics, Media, and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

Photo: (Photo by EuropaNewswire/Gado/Getty Images)