Indoor dining actually saves lives, a coalition of restaurant and bar owners charge in a new, federal class-action lawsuit against Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“We ask for indoor dining to resume to save lives – not to risk them,” the Greater New York Merchants Alliance argues in a Manhattan federal court case filed on Christmas.
The suit highlights that only 1.4 percent of coronavirus transmissions were found to have stemmed from indoor restaurant eating while 74 percent originated with household gatherings.
Emptying out eateries, the suit contends, is filling up apartments and houses — and thus contributing to coronavirus spikes.
“There is no science or subsection of the New York or United States constitution that supports this dystopian edict,” the suit asserts.
State and city officials shuttered city indoor dining in early December amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
Cuomo acknowledged the fresh hardships that would be imposed by the move at the time.
“We’re asking everyone to hold on,” he said. “The end is in sight, but we still have to get there.”
The new legal move — which lists the Seaport House restaurant in Manhattan as an initial plaintiff — is expected to draw from thousands of struggling city restaurants.
“The governor continues to respond to the pandemic with knee jerk responses that only serve to keep an already emotionally frayed citizenry in a never ending state of fear and paranoia,” the case states. “And, as well, actually is a proximate cause of more spread and deaths related to the pandemic.”
The suit also emphasizes that Manhattan — host to a massive concentration of restaurants and taverns — has lower overall COVID-19 infection rates than many counties that have avoided the indoor dining block.
Hoping to stay afloat, small businesspeople adhered to strict, science-based safeguards to promote the city’s fight against the coronavirus, according to the suit.
But those efforts, it argues, have not been reciprocated by government.
“This type of collective effort would give New Yorkers a sense of hope where there currently is extraordinarily little to none,” it states.
The coalition also emphasized that while small business owners have been decimated by city and state restrictions, larger chain companies have seen their profits soar.
The suit asserts that the rules imposed by de Blasio and Cuomo are unconstitutional violations of their rights and that federal intervention is urgent.
In addition to legal measures, the coalition vowed other forms of resistance to the indoor dining ban.
The group “cannot and will not respect or obey any further takings of our fundamental liberty, interests, and freedoms,” according to the suit.
Filed by Manhattan attorneys Kian Khatibi, Migir Ilganayev, and Joseph McBride, the case seeks a preliminary injunction that would undo the indoor dining ban and declare the measure unconstitutional.
Requests for comment from City Hall and Gov. Cuomo’s office were not immediately returned.
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