Over 350 restaurants in New York City have joined a $2 billion class action lawsuit against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose strict — if contradictory — lockdown policies are forcing many to go out of business.
On Thursday, the restaurants filed the lawsuit to force the New York government to permit them to resume indoor dining, which was suspended in the months following the outbreak of the coronavirus, Forbes reports.
According to the lawsuit, the lockdowns caused “irreparable harm” to the city’s food and beverage industry, which has been hit harder than anywhere else in the United States. Other cities in New York have allowed restaurants to continue operations with the implementation of indoor social distancing rules.
Under current guidelines, New York City restaurants have been banned from having any form of indoor dining. The regulations continue to be maintained despite a weeks-long statewide case positive rate of less than 1 per cent.
The class action is being spearheaded by Il Bacco, an Italian restaurant in Queens, which is located only 500 feet from the border to Nassau County, where restaurants have been permitted to operate indoors at a 50% capacity since June 24.
“One restaurant in Queens argues customers can walk blocks away into Nassau County if they want to eat indoors. Il Bacco on Northern Boulevard says it is unfair that indoor dining is illegal in Little Neck, but legal just a few blocks east in Great Neck, on Long Island. In fact, New York City is the only city in the state that still does not allow some form of indoor dining,” ABC 7 reported.
“Every restaurant is packed and me, a block and a half away, I can’t open,” said Il Bacco’s owner Joe Oppedisano, per Newsday. “The restaurant can have customers on its rooftop, but not on the first two floors of the building. And winter is coming. 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.”
The lawsuit by the restaurants follows a class action by 1,500 gyms in New York in August. Gyms, fitness centers, and yoga studios were allowed to reopen at 33 per cent capacity a few weeks later.
On Monday, New Jersey announced that it would permit indoor dining at 25 per cent by Friday.