Armor Inn owner says health department shut down bike night

Owner says he had planned for social distancing

Tom Puckett
July 02, 2020 - 4:00 am
Armor Inn Tap Room

Photo: Armor Inn Tap Room

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Hamburg, NY (WBEN) An area bar owner says the Erie County Health Department shut down his bike night he recently scheduled because of social distancing concerns.

Carl Mauzzo of the Armor Inn says knowing competition was going to do a similiar event, he chose to organize a bike night and do it the right way. "We had a lot of things in effect for the patrons and the community, including social distancing," says Mauzzo. "I have it all planned, we have chairs and social distancing rules. How can you tell me I can't run the event when there's no precedence of running one?" 

Mauzzo tells WBEN's Tom Bauerle he has 12,000 square feet of parking lot. "We could put almost 900 people in there, not that we would, but we were looking to 200-300 people, that's it," says Mauzzo.

He then received a letter from the Erie County Health Department. "I'm not sure why and I don't know what they want from me. The building inspector didn't want to be involved, and neither did the police. They said as long as people are safe, we don't want to be involved," says Mauzzo. Mauzzo says the health department sanitarian came to the Armor Inn and told him the county didn't want him running his bike night. "The health departmetn was telling us to take our barricades down and our signs down," says Mauzzo.

Erie County Health Commissioner Gale Burstein says she's been receiving a number of complaints. "We had reports of concerns of big parties with bands including Armor Inn and The Stage, and we worked with the owners to cancel the events," says Burstein. "We followed up and inspected and we issued violations but they did not meet the level of huge non-compliance." 

Burstein warns restaurants and bars with an event with a band without social distancing and masks will be met by her office. "We will send a sanitarian with law enforcement, we will issue a close order and shut the house down," notes Burstein. "If a restaurant or bar makes an announcement like this on social media and come on down, we will come on down, uninvited, and take action."

Attorney Steve Cohen says there appears to be confusion with the phase four aspect. "You can have up to 50 percent capacity, and that could be more than 50 people, as long as people are wearing face coverings, and no more than 10 people at one table, and there is social distancing," says Cohen. "You can have a gathering of up to 50 people in any manner, and restaurants can fill their interior to 50 percent capacity as long as you space tables six feet apart." Cohen says every place with an outdoor facility and can get a liquor license have been open and not had a problem with social distancing. 

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