More than 350 New York City restaurants have joined a $2 billion class action lawsuit against Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) over the city's ban on indoor dining, arguing state and local officials have done "irreparable harm" with the coronavirus shutdown measure.
What are the details?
The state of New York has opened up indoor dining for everywhere except The Big Apple where only outdoor dining is allowed, leading (remaining) struggling New York City restauranteurs to take legal action as the city's COVID-19 numbers hit new lows and colder weather approaches.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday, and the next day, Cuomo said during a media call that he would not budge on the issue until the NYPD — whose funding was stripped by $1 billion in recent weeks by de Blasio — had in place a 4,000-strong task force of officers to enforce social distancing guidelines for the city, according to Reason.
Making the issue worse, neighboring New Jersey has allowed indoor dining, leaving New York City establishments to helplessly look on as their competitors reopen for business but they remain shuttered.
Joe Oppedisano, owner of Il Bacco in New York City, spearheaded the lawsuit.
Il Bacco is about one and a half blocks, or around 500 feet, away from the Nassau border, where restaurants are permitted to have indoor dining at 50% capacity. New York City is the only part of the state where indoor dining is still banned due to pandemic-based restrictions, though its percentage of positive COVID-19 tests is similar to the rest of the state. There is currently no timeline to open indoor dining for city restaurants, even as fall weather approaches, and owners are concerned that their doors will remain closed through the end of the year.
"Every restaurant is packed and me, a block and a half away, I can't open," Joe Oppedisano, owner of Il Bacco, said Monday in an interview. The restaurant can have customers on its rooftop, but not on the first two floors of the building. "And winter is coming," Oppedisano said. The weather is warm now, but what happens two or three weeks from now? And then when it rains? I'm lucky I have a rooftop and I have a cover I can open and close, but once it gets cold, I can't do that anymore."
What did Gov. Cuomo say?
According to The Daily Wire, Cuomo responded Monday:
I am aware of that competitive disadvantage for NYC restaurants … I'm aware that restaurants in New York City are very unhappy with doing no indoor dining, I understand the economic consequences, their argument will now be exacerbated [because of NJ] and it's something that we're watching and considering. I want as much economic activity as quickly as possible, we also want to make sure transmission rate stays under control. That is the tension.