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“Let the people decide”: New York City businesses defy orders and open early

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Some businesses across New York City are getting antsy and reopening, defying state orders to keep non-essential businesses closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, CBS New York reports.

Twenty-five-year business owner Bobby Catone said if some big box stores can open, why can’t his tanning salon in Staten Island? He was planning to open it on Thursday. 

“We’re being punished for trying to put food on our table,” he said. 

“I’m not a legal expert, I’m just a regular guy being the face and the voice of small businesses,” he said. 

He’s backed by attorney Louis Gelormino, who’s also representing five other businesses.

“We feel the city and the state are overstepping their bounds. They’re greatly exceeding their authority,” Gelormino said. 

“Let the people decide whether they want to come to this business,” he added. 

Nine out of ten regions across New York state have started phased reopenings. New York City remains closed, as it has only met five of seven metrics the state requires for reopening. 

“If people jump the gun and they don’t follow the rules, that’s the best way to guarantee we don’t get to our reopening, so of course we’re going to enforce this and we’re going to enforce it aggressively,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. 

“You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” Cantone said in response to the mayor’s position. “It’s not working this way. I have to take a chance or we have to take a chance. If there’s repercussions, there’s repercussions.”

De Blasio expects the first phase of reopening to begin in the city in the next few weeks, but that doesn’t include entering retail stores or salons.

In Borough Park, Brooklyn, several shop owners have defied state orders to keep non-essential businesses closed.   

“I don’t think it’s right for all small stores to be closing when all Walmarts and Targets and the bigger brands do open and sell clothing,” said Isaac Lati, manager at a clothing store called Rebecca.

Echoing that, Simcha Minkowitz, the owner of Amor Fine Jewelry, started a coalition of more than 300 New York business owners. 

“We’re not looking to make a fight with the governor or with the mayor, but we’re just saying: This needs to be fair,” she said. “Ten people can get together in a park. Ten people can gather together in other situations. Why can’t I allow one person in my store?” 

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