New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has allowed all other regions of the state to begin reopening after the coronavirus lockdowns, except for New York City. With the coronavirus curve effectively flattened, many in the city are growing frustrated with the lack of action from the government. At one point, New York City accounted for half of the daily deaths in the country, however, that number has rapidly declined in recent weeks and is now roughly one-eighth of what it was at its peak.
In his most recent press conference Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will begin “Phase 1” of reopening in early-mid June. Despite the mayor’s enthusiasm, this is not great news for restaurant owners like Sal Coppola, who has two locations of Coppola’s Italian Restaurant on the east and west sides of Manhattan. Restaurants, bars, and many other small businesses will not be allowed to begin reopening until “Phase 3,” according to the mayor, a date for when that might be, still has yet to be mentioned.
“No one’s telling us when we’re going to open. And besides opening, they’re not giving us a plan…They don’t have a plan at all. So how could we prepare for something like this if they’re not giving us any direction? Any. None. Zero,” Coppola told Fox News.
Although being allowed to reopen may seem positive, according to Coppola it could do more harm than good. Mirroring the rest of New York State, he expects the first step will be for restaurants to open at 25 percent capacity, something he says he will not do.
“If we open up at 25 percent, this is what I’d like to know. I would like to ask anyone this question, is the rent going to be 25 percent? Is the Con Edison bill going to be 25 percent? And who do you rehire at 25 percent? If I have 12 employees — do I hire — who? Which one of them? It’s not fair.”
Coppola, who has already laid off 16 staff members, says he has lost 50 to 60 percent of revenue, even with a strong delivery business.
Sarale Giter, an independent hairstylist in NYC, is one of five individuals leading Reopen NY, a coalition of small business owners who are determined to open with or without government approval. For Giter, whose parents emigrated here from Russia, this goes beyond just fighting for the right to work.
“How is Target more essential than a mom and pop shop selling toys. And who’s making these decisions of who’s essential and who’s not? My income is essential. Who cares what I do? Who cares what I’m selling? My income is essential and my freedoms are essential.”
So far, more than 500 businesses have joined the coalition and have begun reopening their stores. The petition on Change.org has garnered almost 10,000 signatures so far and they encourage everyone to continue to sign it.