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Buffalo Police shut down social club violating PAUSE distancing

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Buffalo Police say they've busted a social club within the city that was found to be violating social and physical distancing orders imposed under New York PAUSE.

The club in question was operating in the 100 block of East Street, said Buffalo Police Captain Jeffrey Rinaldo during a Friday afternoon news conference. Officer in the city's D District learned of the establishment's operation two days before and investigated.

"District officers responded to the location. They observed that there was more than 10 people inside of this location, which was serving alcoholic beverages," Rinaldo said. "The officers immediately shut down the location. The Erie County Department of Health, the New York State Liquor Authority the City of Buffalo Department of Permits and Inspections were notified, and a cease-and-desist order was served upon the owners of the premises."

The health department and State Liquor Authority will both hold follow-up investigations, the captain said, though he added that it was his understanding the establishment had not yet obtained its liquor license but was instead awaiting completion of the application process when they were caught.

Rinaldo said police receive about four complaints per week about alleged violations of social distancing within bars and restaurants. Some, upon further investigation, were found to be complying as best as possible but were, for example, backed up on takeout orders yet were keeping customers distanced while they got caught up.

Some bars, however, have been found to be breaking New York PAUSE rules. Rinaldo's message to other business owners is to not take the chance.

"We've said it time and time again. We understand the difficulties that this is putting on businesses that are trying to stay afloat. We get that," he said. "You're not doing yourself any favors. By opening and operating against the order to be shut down, it is only going to cost you a lot of money and probably going to prevent you from ever being able to reopen legally."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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