Rose calls on Cuomo, de Blasio to help restaurants survive in upcoming phases
As New York City starts to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Rep. Max Rose wrote a letter to both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to ask for clarity about the reopening of New York City restaurants to help them in their return during Phases 2 and 3.
Rose has called on the governor and mayor to include 50 percent indoor seating capacity at restaurants in addition to outdoor seating during Phase 2, which is slated to begin Monday, June 22.
In addition, he is calling for Phase 3 to begin on the July 4 holiday, rather than the currently scheduled July 6 date. with 75 percent indoor dining capacity, while monitoring COVID-19 data and ensuring clear safety guidelines and precautions.
“The current guidelines for restaurants, or lack thereof, make absolutely no sense to anyone with eyes,” Rose said. “Restaurant owners are on life support and desperate for a light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone is already out in the streets — what we need are clear rules and reopening guidelines to bring structure and safety to what has become the Wild West.”
Rose cited a New York City Hospitality Alliance study that indicates restaurants will need to be open at 70 percent capacity in order to prevent closures, including indoor capacity.
“It would be a slap in the face to restaurant owners to allow gradual reopening during Phases 2 and 3, when the data shows that closures under these guidelines are inevitable,” he wrote. “Opening restaurants at 50 percent indoor capacity during Phase 2, in addition to the outdoor dining capacity currently allowed, could be the only saving grace of these businesses — in doing so, these restaurants must adhere to social distancing, face covering, and other public health guidance.”
However, de Blasio stated a Phase 2 date may still be unknown.
“Phase 2, as everyone knows, could be as early as June 22,” he said during a press conference on Tuesday, June 16. “I’ve said, I think it’s going to take a little longer than that just to make sure we’re absolutely certain.
Later, he added, “I understand people’s frustrations, but if folks act prematurely and that causes the disease to start spreading again, then that’s the kind of thing that will undermine our ability to get to Phase 2 and stay in Phase 2. So, I know it’s not easy, but people have to
understand there’s a reason for these rules; it’s to help us move forward.”
“Our role in government is to mitigate risk — it is impossible to eliminate all risk and embarking on that fool’s errand will only serve to place businesses and livelihoods in jeopardy,” Rose stated. “I strongly reiterate that urgent measures need to be taken to save these businesses —this same recent study indicated that over 70 percent of restaurants in New York failed to pay their May rent in its entirety.”
On Sunday, June 14, Cuomo said that New York State received 25,000 complaints of businesses that were in violation of the reopening plan and threatened local bars and eateries if they didn’t follow the guidelines.
“This is a very serious situation and I want to make sure everybody knows the consequences here,” he said. “A bar or restaurant that is violating these rules can lose their liquor license. State Liquor Authority inspectors are out. We have a task force of state investigators who are out. You can lose your liquor license and that is a big deal for a bar or restaurant. We are not kidding around with this.”
Rose said he has supported the Independent Restaurant Owners Association Rescue, which held a meeting recently at Salty Dog Bar and Grill, 7509 Third Ave.
“We can’t survive at the rate they’re releasing things,” said George Kabbez, owner of the Salty Dog. “We figured we’d rally the Brooklyn base but it ended up being people from Staten Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan plus salons, shop owners and real estate owners. We’re done. We need to get back to business. The way they are proposing the phasing is just not going to be satisfactory to us.”
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