Staten Island restaurant owners and workers ripped the city coronavirus policy banning indoor dining Tuesday, as they announced suit against the mayor and governor.
“Governor [Andrew] Cuomo, Mayor [Bill] De Blasio, open us up right now so that we can feed our families,” demanded Staten Island’s DeLuca’s Italian Restaurant owner Rob DeLuca at a press conference outside of the Richmond County Supreme Courthouse where a lawsuit fighting the ban was filed late Monday.
The governor shut down the city’s bars and restaurants in mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic and has since allowed restaurants throughout the state to open for indoor dining at limited capacity — except for at city eateries.
“Enough is enough,” DeLuca — a plaintiff in the case — said as several dozen other restaurant owners and workers gathered in support. “We feel like we’re being discriminated against. We’re being bullied, and my mother always told me, always stand up to bullies.”
The lawsuit filed by Staten Island restaurant Osteria Bocelli and the Independence Restaurant Owner’s Association Rescue points out the inconsistency of the executive order that allows neighboring areas to host people to dine inside while Staten Islanders cannot.
“According to Governor Cuomo’s logic, it is dangerous to eat indoors at Osteria Bocelli in suburban Staten Island, but it is safe to dine indoors in restaurants located in Yonkers, White Plains, Hempstead and the overcrowded Hamptons,” the suit charges.
DeLuca manager Willard Gavidia said, “I have a family. I have children to support. I would like Mr. Cuomo to please open up the restaurants because we all need to work.
Assemblywoman and congressional candidate Nicole Malliotakis stood with the restaurants noting that for a month the COVID-19 infection rate in the city has been below 1 percent.
“Municipalities around the state of New York were given a set of guidelines and metrics for reopening, and New York City, like every other municipality in the state, meets those metrics,” Malliotakis said. “And yet the restaurants in our city are being required to keep their indoor dining 100 percent closed.”
Councilman Steve Matteo said, “You can now go to Jersey, and for most Staten Islanders that’s a quick five-minute trip over a bridge to visit local indoor dining. So none of this makes sense that New York City doesn’t have indoor dining.”
“Give us a date this week. Give us a date now,” Matteo demanded. “It’s unfortunate that we had to have our attorneys with us to file a lawsuit. We shouldn’t need that.”
Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said Monday, “The bottom line is that New York City was hit the hardest, and the governor took action to reduce infections in the areas that were driving clusters in other large cities around the country.
“We understand that some people are unhappy, but better unhappy than sick or worse.”
City Hall spokesman Mitch Schwartz Monday declined to comment on the pending litigation but noted that the mayor is working on safely reopening schools and monitoring the health situation as it unfolds this fall.
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