'Autonomous Zone' Bar Shut Down After Ignoring New York's COVID Lockdown Rules

A New York bar has been shut its co-owner who declared it an "autonomous zone" reportedly detained after the venue continued to flout coronavirus lockdown rules.

Mac's Public House in Staten Island has been hit with $1,000 a day fines by the sheriff's office in recent weeks, with the owners being striped of their liquor license on Friday after continuing to defy the rules. However, the bar had remained open.

That ended on Tuesday night, when the New York Sheriff's Department moved to shut the bar after it said plainclothes officers had found 14 people, some eating and drinking alcoholic drinks, inside the venue.

The bar is located in an area designated an "orange zone," under New York restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID. In these areas indoor dining is banned and outdoor dining is limited to tables of four.

A video of uniformed officers in the venue was later posted on the bar's official Facebook page.

Owners Keith McAlarney and Danny Presti had kept the bar open over the weekend, making drinks available for free or donations. But authorities said officers were offered food and drinks "in exchange for a mandatory 'donation' of $40."

Clips posted on social media showed several people later turned up to protest the bar's closure. Presti was detained by police, NBC New York reported.

Newsweek has approached the owners of Mac's Public House and the New York Sheriff's Department for comment.

BREAKING: Mac’s Public House on Staten Island has been shut down by NYC Sheriff’s.

This is the NYC bar that defied Governor Cuomo’s mandate@PIX11News pic.twitter.com/0keK8WW6or

— Cristian Benavides (@cbenavidesTV) December 2, 2020

Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new lockdown restrictions for Staten Island as well as Upper Manhattan.

After weeks of rising cases, southern areas of Staten Island were put under the more severe medium-risk "orange zone," which includes the closure of many non-essential businesses.

Presti declared the bar an "autonomous zone" of New York last week, as he railed against new restrictions.

In a YouTube video posted on Friday, he said he and McAlarney would not abide by the rules nor pay fines. He said: "At this point, we're OK with it, because we're not paying it. [The Sheriff's Department] is issuing us $1,000 fines, so they keep coming back. We're still here. We're not letting them in."

He later added: "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?"

COVID case numbers have been rising across New York City in recent weeks. Staten Island is the worst affected area, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

There have been 48,264 coronavirus cases in New York State over the last week, taking the total number to 655,265 since the pandemic began, according to John Hopkins University.

staten island bar
Mac's Public House in Staten Island has refused to close its doors. Picnote/iStock