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The popular nighttime spot argues that the curfew does more to hurt businesses than it does to protect customers from COVID-19.
“Coronavirus does not behave as a vampire, infecting others only when the moon is out,” states the lawsuit.
“The requirement of an earlier closing time actually helps coronavirus to spread,” the suit contends. “This is because a ‘food curfew’ is likely to cause many who would have gone to get food after midnight to do so before midnight, thus making the hours before midnight more crowded.”
The Graham also argues that NYC’s restaurants are being treated unjustly compared to others in the state. Restaurants in Westchester and on Long Island, for example, have been open for months without being subject to any midnight closures. That is despite those regions having similar COVID infection rates to NYC’s, The Graham’s lawyers pointed out in a motion to expedite the hearing.
In response to the lawsuit, a Cuomo spokesperson told the NY Post, “Bars are closed in ten other states and many—including Rhode Island, North Carolina, and Washington—have similar restrictions in place because they recognize that late-night service can encourage individuals to gather and mingle, increasing the risk of COVID transmission.”
In contention, The Graham argued in its motion that there’s no reason to believe that, when the clock hits midnight, restaurants will relax on enforcing protocols, such as making sure patrons are wearing masks, keeping them seated at their tables and taking temperatures at the door.
Tov Lutzker, the owner of The Graham, told the Post that his establishment relies on feeding “the service industry, the second- and third-shift employees, everyone from MTA workers to those serving tables at other bars and restaurants. Historically, we have made 50 percent of our money after 2 a.m. To set closing time at 12 a.m. specifically just seems to be arbitrary and punitive to late-night establishments.”
“What’s the difference between, say, 11 [p.m.] and 1 [a.m.]?” Lutzker continued. “If there is a difference and you can prove it, we can go away quietly. We’ll do just about anything you ask of us that’s reasonable, but this is what really pushed us over.”
On Thursday, Sept. 24, a federal judge ordered Gov. Cuomo to respond quickly, before Sept. 30, to The Graham’s lawsuit, Top Class Actions reported.
Throughout the pandemic, Gov. Cuomo has been a strict enforcer of the rules he has placed on bars and restaurants. Since March, 201 businesses‘ liquor licenses have been suspended for failing to adhere to rules and regulations. Included in that list is Bushwick’s House of Yes.
Earlier this month, a Queens restaurant, along with hundreds of others, filed a $2 billion class-action lawsuit against the Governor to try to get him to bring back indoor dining, the Gothamist reported.
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