By COLlive reporter
Photos/Video: Itzik Roytman/COLlive
Small business owners gathered in lower Manhattan Wednesday to demand that Governor Andrew Cuomo allow them to reopen following closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The hundreds of diverse businesses that joined together in protest are located in all of New York’s five boroughs.
Speakers told how the lockdown is destroying their livelihoods permanently, as many are in danger of closing their doors for good.
“At the start of this pandemic, and when our city needed it most, we shut our doors to flatten the curve. But today, while the curve has been flattened our requests to reopen our sources of income have fallen on deaf ears. Our businesses are the backbone of this state, and quite literally what we depend on to put food on our tables and is equally vital to our employees, vendors, and local neighborhoods,” said Bruce Backman, CEO of Pesach in the Northeast who is leading REOPEN NY, a campaign pushing for small businesses to reopen.
Also speaking was Simcha Minkowitz, owner of Amor Fine Jewelry in Boro Park, Brooklyn, whose video demanding to be able to reopen her business was widely shared and led to a change.org petition which has garnered over 7,000 signatures.
Minkowitz, along with fellow small business owners Sara C Brafman of Gymies, Sarale Giter of Hair By Sarale and Sara Mund of Mezzo are on the executive committee of REOPEN NY.
Brafman, owner of Gymies, a children’s multi-sport facility in Crown Heights, spoke about the emotional toll the shutdown is taking on many families.
“Children are experiencing negative effects from screen fatigue, and the lack of human interaction is something that I cannot underscore enough,” she said.
Brafman also highlighted the current plight of many single-parent families. “The economic devastation that is occurring to parents that are home with their children with no childcare opportunity is going to be almost impossible to remedy,” she said.
The coalition of business owners demanded that they be allowed to open by Tuesday, May 26th.
They say they are all committed to operating their businesses safely, requiring the wearing of masks and proper social distancing at all times.
“If big-box stores can service hundreds at a time, we citizens should be equally trusted to service smaller numbers of clients in our places of business,” they said. “Common sense dictates that it is obviously much easier to monitor smaller more controlled environments and enterprises.”
They are also calling for a Temporary Sales Tax Holiday to benefit all small businesses that were shuttered during the pandemic.
“As we reopen and work to rebuild, the road to recovery will not be a simple one, specifically for small businesses that were deemed “non-essential” for over 10 weeks. This sales tax holiday would provide all our customers as well as business owners a much-needed boost to spur job creation and economic growth,” they said.