DESTEFANO TO THE GOVERNOR: LET CATERING HALLS FULLY OPEN
- Date : October 4th, 2020
- Author : Team DeStefano
My compliments to Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio for organizing a meeting with the state's catering facility owners to appeal to Gov. Cuomo to let them get back to business. As we reopen in the wake of the COVID pandemic, the caterers are still limited to only 50 guests or less, even if they have large halls that can safely host the public. They believe the 50-person limit is arbitrary and will force them into bankruptcy and have asked the governor to allow them to at least go to 50 percent capacity. Here's the write up from today's event.
Catering business owners from across New York will gather at an urgent meeting in Hauppauge Friday to appeal to Gov. Cuomo to let them open to 50 percent capacity and let weddings, sweet 16’s, ceremonies and other activities that were put on hold during the COVID pandemic to take place.
“Catering facilities have been brought to the brink of bankruptcy with no cash flow since March and living on loans; they must be allowed to open at 50 percent capacity,” said the event’s organizer, Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio. “They make up a large portion of our economy, and secondary businesses, including invitations, bakeries, bridal and tuxedo shops, hotels, DJ’s, florists, photographers and videographers, live music and transportation businesses supporting the industry are suffering also. The trickling down effect of these restrictions on the industry is immense. Restrictions decimated the summer tourism season when they should have been allowed to operate safely. Gov. Cuomo must lift the arbitrary 50-person restriction and let them open to 50 percent capacity,” the councilwoman added.
“Regardless of the size of the facility, the governor capped these businesses at no more than 50 guests,” said Giglio, a candidate for the state assembly. “Facilities with the capacity for 300, 500 and 700 guest are being forced to operate as if they were all the same size. They are going bankrupt and need to feed their families. We need the governor to let them safely serve their customers, put their employees back to work and pay their bills.”
According to Assemblyman Joe DeStefano, the weddings, and other events that catering halls count on to stay in business were cancelled at a rapid rate as the state’s economy was shut down. “Caterers were put out of business for months and now are being told that they can only have up to 50 guests. This doesn’t make sense for the majority of facilities that can safely host many more people than that.”
“Caterers have been targeted by state authorities for being a few people over the limit and some have had their licenses suspended or revoked,” said Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo, who called on the governor to at least make the allowed occupancy at least 50 percent of capacity. “This would allow for ample social distancing for a society that is now well accustomed to the need to wear masks and practice good hygiene.” Palumbo, who is running for the retiring Kenneth LaValle’s state senate seat, added: “Many businesses have proven they can operate safely, and the catering halls are no exception. Why is it then that they need such tight restrictions?”
“Enough is enough,” said an owner whose facility can hold up to 500 people, but is restricted to just 50. “The state came down hard on an East End hall that had plenty of room to safely accommodate the 94 guests that showed up. They weren't going to turn them away because they had plenty of room to safely host them. Shutting them down and revoking their license in light of the economic hardship they are facing is just not right. Facing penalties of $10,000 per violation and paying lawyers’ fees when the PPP loans ran out three months ago is unaffordable and impractical during these difficult times for our industry.”
“These businesses are scared to death,” said Giglio, who is running for the assembly on a pro-business platform. “They fear going bankrupt and are afraid to say anything for fear of the state cracking down on them. They have enlisted their elected officials on the local level in their fight to get back in business.”
The caterers have filed a class action lawsuit seeking permission to fully reopen. “We know more about safety precautions than we ever did and at this point, the restrictions seem arbitrary and punitive,” said Giglio “We need to focus more on the local economy and getting back to normal and less on exercises in power from the state. These restrictions are unconstitutional and are destroying business owner’s ability to make a living. Businesses should be allowed to reopen at 50 percent and let their patrons decide on their level of safety.”
“We fully understand the seriousness and gravity of the current pandemic,” the caterers state. “Private Events are the lifeblood of New York and an engine of prosperity for the City and State. Without private and public events, our cultural, political, economic, and physical landscapes have been dramatically altered. While the procedures and protocols for safety are essential to resuming business, it is our utmost PRIORITY to ensure that our employees, clients, and guests have sufficient confidence in our industry so we can reopen and safely host private events. We are committed to returning employees to the events industry safely while complying with the protocols and mandates implemented by the City and State Governments as it pertains to gatherings.”