More than 350 restaurants across New York City filed a $2 billion class-action lawsuit Thursday against Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and New York attorneys general, demanding they allow indoor dining to resume in the Big Apple.
“Every restaurant is packed, and me, a block and a half away, I can’t open,” explained Queens restaurateur Joe Oppedisano. “The restaurant can have customers on its rooftop, but not on the first two floors of the building.”
Oppedisano, owner of Il Bacco, told WABC-TV he is concerned because winter weather is soon approaching.
“The weather is warm now,” he said, “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.”
Those who filed the lawsuit have accused de Blasio, Cuomo, and other government officials of violating their constitutional rights. The Il Bacco owners furthermore argued the rules make little sense, given customers can walk a block away into Nassau County if they would like to dine indoors.
The restaurant owners filed the suit the same day New Jersey officials announced plans to allow indoor dining at 25% capacity beginning Friday.
Cuomo voiced frustration Monday with the fact that New Jersey is reinstating indoor dining, noting it just highlights the continued restrictions in his own state.
“I am aware of that competitive disadvantage for NYC restaurants,” the governor said. “I’m aware that restaurants in New York City are very unhappy with doing no indoor dining. I understand the economic consequences. Their argument will now be exacerbated [because of New Jersey] and it’s something that we’re watching and considering.”
“I want as much economic activity as quickly as possible,” Cuomo continued. “We also want to make sure transmission rate stays under control. That is the tension.”
De Blasio, for his part, is also holding his ground.
On Monday, the mayor said he “will absolutely … keep looking for that situation where we can push down the virus enough that we would have more ability to address indoor dining.” He said his administration would “have more to say on that in the coming days,” adding it would take “a huge step forward” for him to even consider allowing indoor dining to resume.
Restaurateurs aren’t the only ones suing Cuomo.
More than 1,500 gym owners — at least 500 of whom operate in New York City — filed a lawsuit against the governor in mid-August, according to Gothamist. In addition to being permitted to re-open, the gym owners are also seeking compensation for all their lost revenue over recent months.
“All these gyms want the same thing,” said attorney James G. Mermigis, who is representing the group. “They want to be able to open up in the same way other businesses have been opening up. They want to be able to open up their businesses to prove they can open up safely, just like all these other businesses, like Walmart, Target, etc.”
Cuomo, though, has said going to the gym remains a “dangerous activity.”