De Blasio branded a ‘liar’ for ‘outrageous’ claim small businesses will survive months more of shutdowns

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is being called out as a “liar” for his recent claim that small businesses in the city could continue “hanging on” for “months” under his current coronavirus lockdown order as more residents plea for him to reopen the Big Apple.

The criticism comes as the city of some 8 million people saw just 63 hospitalizations for COVID-19 on Monday, which is just a fraction of the number New York experienced March 29 when de Blasio issued his stay-at-home order which also called for the shuttering of thousands of ‘non-essential’ businesses.

Despite the dramatic drop-off in coronavirus hospitalizations and cases, neither de Blasio or New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will say when they plan to fully reopen the city and state respectively, even as more and more people demand they end the lockdowns, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.

In a Friday interview, de Blasio told WNYC radio, “I’ve talked to lots and lots of business leaders, especially the small businesses.

“They’re very worried about their futures understandably, but they also are hanging on and they know it can be a matter of months until they’ll be back in action,” he added.

The comment sparked no shortage of outrage among New Yorkers who are fed up with being locked down and business owners who are tired of being told they’re not permitted to earn a living because they’re not ‘essential’ by a mayor who owns two homes in Park Slope, an expensive Brooklyn neighborhood.

The Daily Mail noted that hundreds of small businesses have recently formed a coalition to demand that de Blasio relax his restrictions and allow them to open their doors again.

Meanwhile, others have simply begun to defy de Blasio and reopen on their own because they can’t afford to stay closed any longer, though many of them have been given summonses by the NYPD.

Small retailers are also demanding to know why big box outlets like Walmart and Costco have been allowed to remain open, especially when the smaller shops can more easily maintain social distancing mandates.

“I think it’s a power grab… you have to wonder, how much lobbying are the big box stores doing to keep themselves the only ones in business?” Bruce Backman, a spokesman for the Reopen New York coalition, told the paper. “When have we ever forced people to go to three stores to buy everything? It’s like the Soviet Union.”

Others want to know just which small business owners de Blasio has talked to who told him they can continue to remain closed for months more.

“This is not the conversation I’ve had with moms and pops,” a Twitter user named Julia Marsh tweeted in response to de Blasio’s claim.

Another branded de Blasio a “liar,” while Sen. Simcha Felder (D-17th district) said, “Small business owners are choking, bleeding and dying. I have yet to hear the Mayor’s explanation. Small businesses cannot last another day let alone 6 months. Maybe if I was renting out 2 Park Slope homes I’d understand.”

The paper said that de Blasio is still collecting rent from his tenants because, the mayor said, they have jobs and can afford to pay it.

As for the mayor and the governor, they have yet to fully explain why they refuse to begin reopening the city and the state, respectively, now that the coronavirus curve has been bent, which was the original purpose behind the lockdowns.

Clearly, the shutdowns are taking a huge toll on businesses and workers.

“For leisure and hospitality, including restaurants and hotels, the downturn equates to a virtual apocalypse — a job loss of 68 percent,” said E.J. McMahon of The Empire Center. “There’s a great concern that many of these jobs are lost. The slow reopening is not going to help the restaurant sector.”

There is also concern among many business owners that if they do reopen and coronavirus returns in the fall with any severity at all, the mayor and governor will order new lockdowns and they’ll simply be unable to weather that storm.

Meanwhile, every other region of the state has been told they can reopen with restrictions. Mid-Hudson reopens on Wednesday and Long Island will reopen Thursday, the Daily Mail reported.

But according to officials, New York City doesn’t have enough contact tracers or hospital beds, even though the city never had its hospital capacity fully challenged during the peak outbreak.

“The mayor’s policies are crushing our businesses, but even worse they are destroying New York,” Backman told the paper. “We the small business owners and workers, who are the lifeblood of the city’s economy and its dreams for the future are pleading with him to trust us to open our businesses safely before it is too late.

“These policies are counterproductive, cruel and they are indiscriminately targeting our working and middle classes,” he said, adding the shutdown policy is “exacerbating the gap between rich and poor.”

Jon Dougherty

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