FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM JUNE 18, 2020 • THE QUEENS COURIER 33
WE MUST AVOID
A SECOND COVID
As some states across the country
are beginning to see a spike in
COVID-19 cases, some medical
experts believe that a second lockdown
may have to be put into place.
A second national lockdown
cannot and must not occur, as it
would potentially be more devastating
than the fi rst one, which lasted
more than three months and caused
tremendous economic, social and
personal hardship for millions of
National unemployment currently
stands at 44 million people as a result
of the shutdown deemed necessary
due to the pandemic.
Should there be a second wave of
COVID-19 cases later this year, our
hospitals, clinics and other medical
facilities should be much better
prepared to handle those patients
that may get sick due to the virus.
Our wonderful, dedicated doctors,
nurses, EMTs, paramedics and other
medical personnel know how to treat
those patients who might be sick
with coronavirus, so hopefully the
second wave will be mitigated to
A second national shutdown would
wreak unbelievable havoc across the
country, and must be avoided.
John Amato, Fresh Meadows
GIVE LIRR CREDIT,
Give LIRR full credit for cleaning
and safety measures in response to
Th ey added extra cars on existing
scheduled trains to promote social
distancing, which is possible when
not running the same number of
rush hour trains pre-pandemic.
Th e problem going forward is a
lack of capacity to add more cars to
trains when returning to 100 percent
rush hour service, as the LIRR has a
limited spare fl eet.
As ridership returns to 50 percent
or more, it will be more diffi cult to
maintain social distancing of six feet
between customers on both platforms
and trains, especially during
rush hour. Who would want to occupy
the center seat or sit face to face?
A long, hot summer with air conditioning
malfunctions could add to
Th e LIRR will continue to face
periodic equipment malfunction,
inclement weather, switching or
crossing gate, storm and signal problems
contributing to service disruptions
resulting in canceled and combined
trains. People stand in the
aisles and trips take longer with more
boarding time needed.
Imagine the crowds at Penn
Station with straphangers standing
shoulder-to-shoulder waiting for the
Larry Penner, Great Neck
oped letters & comments
How to move forward
with open-air tabling for
restaurants in Astoria
BY RICHARD KHUZAMI WITH CAROL RANGEL
In order for our restaurants and cafes to survive, we
all must toss out norms we have lived with for years and
seek new solutions.
On June 9, 22 restaurant owners and managers in
Astoria met remotely in order to create proposals for the
city. Here’s what our plan would look like.
On commercial blocks where restaurant density is
high, we propose full street closure from 6 to 11 p.m. on
Fridays. We would then close at 6 p.m. Saturday and stay
closed until 10 p.m. Sunday.
Restaurants would be allowed to table on the street itself,
allowing for social distancing while leaving a corridor for
pedestrians and bicyclists. Th e streets would be kept open
during the day for retail and deliveries, except on Sunday when
it is unnecessary, allowing brunch options for restaurants.
Crowd control measures are imperative, such as physical
barriers and security to ensure proper social distancing
and controlled alcoholic consumption. We would
hope the city can provide security at areas adjacent to
these “food courts” if needed. Bars and restaurants would
off er masks to those who do not have their own and deny
service to those who refuse to wear them.
Last Friday, June 12, we had an example of what happens
when control and safety measures are not in place.
We experienced what some have likened to “spring
break” on 30th Avenue, complete with motorcycles ridden
on sidewalks, and cars doing “donuts” in intersections.
It was a dangerous environment, and we compliment
the NYPD for clearing the area quickly and safely
when local businesses called. We also want to note that
the NYPD complimented local businesses for their cooperation.
Th is chaos is the last thing these businesses want.
If these blocks were closed to vehicular traffi c, all this
could be avoided.
We must try to close enough blocks, so all establishments
are treated equally. We don’t want to push customers
to the areas operating with street closure and drive
customers away from surrounding restaurants, leaving
them at a disadvantage.
While preferred, if full street closure is not possible,
there is the option to vacate the parking spaces in front of
each establishment for extra seating (curbside seating).
In addition, we should try to maximize seating on the
sidewalk. Th is would still allow a traffi c corridor which
could be for pedestrians, bicycles, scooters, or automobiles,
all depending on its size.
We are aware that two of the biggest issues are the
moving of parked cars and the rerouting of buses. Th ere
is no easy answer to this. However, the existing restriction
against having Open Streets on bus routes needs to
be waived or we will never be able to signifi cantly help
these small businesses. Most of them are in commercial
areas that have bus service.
Parking should be handled in a similar fashion to fi lm
shoots: Cars will be towed, but no one will be charged.
And publicity to warn drivers is paramount. New Yorkers
have made many sacrifi ces due to the pandemic. Parking
a few blocks away or walking an extra block to a bus
seems to be a small inconvenience if the goal is to help
small businesses such as restaurants survive.
We call for all restaurants, bars and cafes on a given
closed block to pool their resources to make sure said
blocks meet all standards, including providing barricades,
tabling or security if needed.
And lastly, we call on the city to expedite all licenses,
especially for outdoor cafes, and waive all fees for the
duration of the pandemic.
Khuzami is president of Old Astoria Neighborhood
Association. Rangel is a freelance writer.
PEACEFUL VIEW AT KISSENA PARK LAKE // PHOTO SUBMITTED BY LEANN BUGARIN
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