Borough Park businesses are flouting coronavirus shutdown restrictions

A slew of businesses that have reopened in Brooklyn’s Borough Park — some in apparent violation of shutdown orders — are allowing customers to pack their stores as if the coronavirus pandemic never happened, The Post has learned.

Some of the stores have attempted to mask their operations by covering their windows with butcher paper, though a steady stream of customers observed by two Post reporters over two days quickly gave them away.

“There are too many customers, but we can’t really stop them from coming in,” said one worker at Toys4U, which was jammed with more than 50 customers Tuesday afternoon. “They want to come in and shop.”

A second employee said the shop managed to stay open selling toys by getting into the bicycle repair business, which has been deemed an essential function during the shutdown.

The Post did see two-wheelers getting fixed, though a search of the store’s website only turned up one model of bike for sale: WeeRide’s ‘Learn 2 Ride Balance Bike’ for tots.

It comes in white, has 10-inch wheels and retails for $50.96.

When asked about the crowds, the second added: “That might be a problem.”

All told, the Post spotted a half-dozen open and crowded businesses along the stretch of 13th Avenue — including a child’s clothing store, a womenswear shop and a shoe retailer — that did not appear to meet the criteria in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency shutdown order to be considered an essential business.

Cuomo’s order also urged essential businesses “to maintain social distancing measures to the extent possible,” criteria these establishments were not abiding by.

The rejection of COVID-19 restrictions also extended to other visible aspects of life in Borough Park, including Health Department’s guidelines to stay six feet apart.

Groups of women and children walked the sidewalks in large bunches, men gaggled tightly together in the streets — and almost none donned the protective masks that have become a staple of pandemic life in the Big Apple.

“I would never go in there. Do you see a single mask on any of the women in there,” said one woman Tuesday as she stood outside of Miller’s Family Wear, a crowded women’s clothing store on 13th Avenue.

“They act as if COVID just vanished, like magic,” she added. “I pray that none of them are going to get sick, but prayer requires action as well. They’re putting themselves in the line of fire and then expecting a miracle.”

The NYPD would not provide statistics on enforcement of the social distancing guidelines by the 66th Precinct, which patrols the neighborhood.

Mayor de Blasio has repeatedly claimed that New Yorkers — by and large — are complying with the shutdown orders and distancing advice, helping to wrestle the pandemic that’s killed more than 21,000 people in the city back under control.

Borough Park has been hard hit, with 205 people dying from the disease in the 11219 zip code alone, according to city statistics reviewed Tuesday.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene data also shows the zip code is home to the second-highest number of coronavirus cases per capita in Brooklyn, trailing just the massive Starrett City development in East New York.

Some businesses in the area have been vocally pushing to reopen through their city lawmaker, Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn), and have promised they would observe social distancing rules to ensure customers can safely shop.

When asked for comment late Tuesday, City Hall dispatched the Sheriff’s Office to the neighborhood and ordered four businesses closed. No summonses were issued.

“As soon as we were contacted by The Post, the City immediately sent out the Sheriff’s Department to conduct inspections and distribute face coverings,” said de Blasio spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie. “Four non-essential businesses were shut down, and we will continue to monitor this neighborhood closely.”

She added: “We thank the Post for partnering with us to protect New Yorker’s health and safety during this pandemic.”

Additional reporting by Julia Marsh and Craig McCarthy

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