New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not made friends this week.
First, after months of criticism for Cuomo’s lousy handling of COVID-19 that led to a surge in nursing home deaths, the state’s attorney general revealed that things were actually worse — way worse — than what the governor had claimed.
Turns out the Cuomo administration undercounted COVID nursing home deaths by 50%, Democratic Attorney General Letitia James reported Thursday.
It was so bad that even CNN finally noticed.
And then there’s the economy.
The governor shut down his state during the pandemic, and his subjects have suffered. Businesses have been forced to close and nearly 2 million jobs have been lost. It’s so bad, that Cuomo’s own budget plan forecasted that the state would not reach pre-pandemic employment levels until sometime in 2025.
New York City has been hit exceptionally hard — especially the hospitality and entertainment sectors where restaurants have been forced to offer only outdoor dining or takeout since mid-December. But have no fear, Gothamites, Cuomo said this week that he had a plan to deal with some of the problems.
He’s going to allow restaurants to reopen for indoor dining at 25% capacity, he teased Wednesday, the New York Post reported.
This, naturally, is not sitting well with Big Apple restauranteurs who understand that they cannot survive with three-quarters of their seats forced to be off-limits.
These businessmen told the Post that they see the 25% restrictions as “outrageous,” both because one-quarter capacity isn’t viable and because fellow restaurant owners in other parts of the state — including areas neighboring New York City — have already been allowed to be open at 50%.
For example, Nassau County, which borders Queens, has a 6.5% positivity rate for coronavirus tests, but Queens’ rate is 5.8%, the Post reported, citing state data.
“The restaurants are packed in Nassau and I feel like I’m going to f***ing shoot myself!” Rocco Sacramento, the owner of Trattoria L’Incontro in Astoria, Queens, told the Post. “Are you f***ing kidding me?!”
New York City Hospitality Alliance executive director Andrew Rigie told the Post that he’s pushing the governor to go beyond 25%, especially considering that the city has better numbers than several other areas that have been allowed to have far more customers.
“New York City has lower infection and hospitalization rates than nearly all counties in the rest of the state where indoor dining is open at 50 percent occupancy,” he said. “Our city’s restaurants must be treated equitably and reopened safely.”
Syed Hossain, who owns Tikka Indian Grill in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which seats just 32 people, scoffed at the idea of opening for eight people, saying, “Twenty-five percent? We can’t! It’s stupid — I’d be losing money.”
Vincent Malerba, the owner of four Staten Island restaurants, really let Cuomo have it for his inconsistencies.
“What are we going to do with 25 percent? It’s a joke!” he told the Post. “It’s disgusting. I go to the gym, touch everything, get a haircut, but nobody can go to dinner? You can go to New Jersey, my friends’ restaurants have an hour wait on a Tuesday.”
Malerba had a theory about why Cuomo was being cruel to eateries.
“His ex-girlfriend was a celebrity chef,” he said, referring to Cuomo’s 14-year relationship with Sandra Lee that came crashing down last year. “Maybe that’s why he hates our industry.”