NYC Restaurant Owners and Staff March to Demand Gov. Cuomo Ease Dining Rules Ahead of Winter

Published on September 29, 2020

Fed up restaurant owners and workers associated with the Fox Lifestyle Hospitality Group marched on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan office Monday afternoon. The coalition of eateries demanded a relaxation of restrictions in New York City that have been implemented to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Progress from the Previous New York City March

Fox Lifestyle Hospitality had previously marched on City Hall on September 14, and Gov. Cuomo decided later to open indoor dining at 25 percent occupancy on September 30.

After the Sept 14 march, the NYC Restaurants March organizers announced that their voices “helped move the conversation in a positive direction,” and that the New York governor’s choice to open dining indoors to 25 percent occupancy on Sept. 30th was not adequate enough and was “too little too late.” 

During Monday’s New York City restaurants march, 200 strong, chanting, sign-waving restaurant owners and workers marched and pushed city policymakers to extend outdoor dining indefinitely. They also demanded indoor dining be extended to 50 percent like the rest of New York State has experienced since June. They also pressured Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio to push for federal aid to save the restaurant industry and for Congress to pass the Restaurants Act.

What is the Restaurants Act?

According to the Independent Restaurant Coalition, 500,000 independent restaurants and the 11 million jobs associated may go away for good. In order for the restaurant industry to serve communities again and reignite the economy, the coalition urged Congress during the march to pass the Restaurants Act.

If passed, the Restaurant Act will establish a $120B Independent Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Proceed will work toward helping small restaurants and bars impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The Fox Lifestyle Hospitality Group is working to bring awareness to that. And they are also asking to have citizens sign the form that tells Congress to act now.

Status Quo Sees 2/3 of NYC Restaurants Closing

The urgency to fast-track relaxation of the restrictions relates to the upcoming colder months. Months that are likely to hit the restaurant industry hard. Of the dire predicament, the Fox Lifestyle Hospitality Group announced on their website,

“Winter is coming and we do not have a comprehensive plan for independent restaurants.  It’s been estimated that 2/3 of NYC restaurants will permanently close.” The group stressed, “That’s your neighborhood bar, favorite date spot, where you spend time with your family and friends, all gone.” group stressed.

Other Proposals Made by the Coalition

The restaurateurs also announced the proposed schedule to open today, and they gave a nod to Governor Cuomo saying,

“You didn’t bend the curve, you flattened it. Now, we need your help to push Congress to pass the bipartisan RESTAURANT Act of 2020.  With the science you have been relying on, allow 50% indoor dining by Oct 15;  75% by November 1 and 100% by Thanksgiving.”

Governor Cuomo’s Response to NYC Restaurants March

Governor Cuomo responded to the restaurant owners by cautioning them that safety must come first. Especially since reports indicate that the coronavirus infection rate has soared in ten NY zip codes, including Brooklyn and Queens.

Spokesman for Governor Cuomo, Jack Sterne said, “We sympathize with these business owners, but it’s clear they haven’t been paying attention.”

Sterne added that the city sets the guidelines for dining and that the governor is ready to increase the indoor dining capacity after November 1 if New York State’s low infection rate continues.

New York City Restaurant March Holds a Wake for Themselves

To tell proud New Yorkers they aren’t paying attention probably didn’t sit well, Grit Daily Readers. During Monday’s march, the restaurant owners came up with a few attention-grabbers of their own.

The New York City’s restaurant industry held a wake for itself during Monday’s march. The scene included a white coffin and Scottish bagpipes. Patrick McNamee, the owner of the Mean Fiddler in Times Square said “We’re not surviving, we’re dying. “By Jan. 1, I guarantee you that 60 to 65 percent of the restaurants [In NYC] are finished.”

One restaurant owner who helped carry the casket during the NYC restaurants march spoke to the media but wanted to stay anonymous. He said his family owned 13 restaurants before COVID-19, but now it is down to only six.

He pleaded, “Let us reopen. We are not children, we’re responsible adults, and we’ll adhere to all the safety measures,’’

“At 25 percent, we can’t operate. We’re dead,” he said.

You can read how COVID-19 is affecting retail here: COVID-19 Killed Retail. This is Why.

Holly Chavez is a News Columnist at Grit Daily. She enjoys sharing hot, trending news stories with her readers. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, she focuses her writing on travel, brands and tech. Holly's professional interests include business and entrepreneurship. 

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