Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R,C,I-Riverhead) spoke out at a joint press conference alongside members of the Assembly and Senate Minority Conferences on Monday, March 22 to introduce legislation allowing New York’s hospitality businesses to fully reopen.
“The small business owners and families who run New York’s many restaurants, pubs and catering facilities are bearing the brunt of Gov. Cuomo’s arbitrary and capricious restrictions,” Giglio said. “If they haven’t gone out of business completely, they’re on the verge of bankruptcy thanks to the wave of one man’s hand. It’s time for them to be rescued.”
When the COVID pandemic first hit, the governor assumed extraordinary powers and quickly shut down the state. While some businesses were allowed to reopen, restaurants, pubs and catering halls were hit with an ever-changing series of rules that forced them to close early, limit the number of patrons and only serve alcohol with food.
“What difference does it make if a restaurant closes at 9 or 10 p.m.? Or if 10 people are at a table or 12?” Giglio asked. “I thought we live in America. I thought we live in a country where we can make our own decisions on where we can eat, with whom and what time we must stop? Are Cuomo’s rules and restrictions really based on science? Does the COVID virus only come out after 10 or 11 p.m. or does the governor even know? Does COVID care if you have food with your drink?”
Speaking alongside Giglio was Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay.
“It’s obvious that we are no longer operating under a system where science is driving decisions,” Barclay said. “There is no data that explains lifting curfews on certain facilities and leaving bars and restaurants off that list. Overturning Gov. Cuomo’s senseless, arbitrary directives is as easy as passing a resolution. It’s time for Majority members to take that step.”
So far, according to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, 160,000 restaurant workers have lost their jobs thanks to the governor’s mandates. Additionally, 1 in 6 restaurants in New York have been forced out of business.
“These small business owners have loans to pay, rent is due. We cannot sit idly by and let this continue. The trickle-down effect to the ancillary businesses is also immense and a lot of people are suffering. It’s time to act,” Giglio said.
State legislators from both sides of the aisle have said that the extraordinary powers granted to the governor at the start of the COVID pandemic must be rescinded.
“The governor turning a blind eye to the plight of these business owners is a key reason why his powers need to be revoked. If he continues to refuse to let this industry off the hook, the elected legislators must step in,” Giglio argued at the state Capitol. “I have said from day one that these decisions are best made by the elected officials closest to the people and now is the time for us to do our job.”
The assemblywoman concluded, “To my colleagues, it’s time to listen to the pleas of your constituents. It’s time to let restaurants, pubs and catering halls fully open. To the business owners, please hang in there. Help is on the way. To my neighbors, friends and family, continue to take the precautions that will keep you safe. If you don’t feel comfortable going out, stay home. But at least know that as an American living in a state governed by the people and for the people, you will have the choice.”