8 THE QUEENS COURIER • SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Cuomo OKs indoor dining at 25 percent capacity
after lawsuit from Little Neck restaurant owners
BY ANGÉLICA ACEVEDO
A Little Neck restaurant sued Governor
Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and
the attorney general’s offi ce over the continuation
of the shutdown on indoor dining
in New York City — with more than
350 other restaurants signed on to the
lawsuit fi led on Monday, Aug. 28.
As restaurants across the state have gotten
permission to allow diners indoors,
the owners of Il Bacco Ristorante, located
at 25324 Northern Blvd., fi led a $2 billion
class action lawsuit against the city and
state’s leadership, claiming the shut down
in New York City has led to “irreparable
harm” for the restaurant and the industry
as a whole.
Following weeks of calls for a return to
indoor dining from restaurant and bar
owners across the city, Cuomo announced
on Wednesday, Sept. 9 that the city will
fi nally start to open indoor dining at the
end of the month.
He released several guidelines for
reopening that include only 25 percent
capacity inside eateries, tables must be six
feet apart, all patrons will have their temperatures
checked at the door and must
wear masks when they are not at their
table, and at least one patron in the party
will have to provide their contact information
for contact tracing.
De Blasio followed the announcement
by adding that if the city hits 2 percent in
COVID-19 positivity rates, “the city
will immediately reassess.”
“Working with the state and public
health offi cials, we’ve achieved a
plan that puts health and safety
fi rst by including strict capacity
limits, a close monitoring of
citywide positive testing rates
and a coordinated inspection
regimen,” said de
Blasio. “Science will
guide our decisionmaking
as we continue
progress and health
care indicators over
the next three weeks
to ensure a safe
may not look like
the indoor dining
that we all know
and love, but
it is progress
workers and all
Il Bacco took to Facebook to share the
news and thank leadership for hearing
them and their concerns.
“To everyone that has signed the petition,
to every word and comment of
encouragement, to all that have supported
us through takeout and outdoor dining
through this... we THANK YOU!
sic,” the post read. “To our NY leadership,
we are so glad you’ve heard us and
are looking forward to
continuing to open up
NYC safely. To anyone
that shared and brought
light to the situation NYC restaurants
have been faced with, thank you for not
letting us become the #forgottenpeople.”
James Mermigis, Il Bacco’s lawyer, said
they are still going ahead with the lawsuit.
“It’s unacceptable that NYC is being singled
out again. 25 percent is unacceptable.
NYC restaurants have tremendous overhead
and cannot survive at 25 percent
capacity. Th e infection rates in NYC have
been under 1 percent for over 3 weeks
and NYC continues to outperform several
regions throughout the state.”
Il Bacco is located one block from the
Nassau County border, where restaurants
are free to serve customers indoors at 50
“If a restaurant patron travels fi ve hundred
feet east or one city block east from
Il Bacco, patrons are in Nassau County
and can enjoy indoor dining in an air
conditioned room,” the lawsuit reads.
“According to Governor Cuomo, it is dangerous
to eat at Il Bacco in Little Neck,
Queens, but it is safe to dine indoors a few
hundred feet east.”
Supporters of the lawsuit gathered in
front of the restaurant on Th ursday, Sept.
3, to further call on the mayor and governor
to make indoor dining an option
for eateries in the city. Speakers, most of
whom were Republican lawmakers from
Queens, made reference to the idea that
the restaurant shutdown was evidence of
a larger issue with city leadership — one
that they claim has also allowed violence
and economic despair to take hold in the
fi ve boroughs.
“As we all know, it’s already too hard
to run a business in New York City, even
before the pandemic,” said Joann Ariola,
the Republican nominee for Queens borough
president. “But now, thanks to Bill
de Blasio, it’s impossible.”
In addition to the fi nancial harm the
lawsuit claims has been caused by the
mayor’s and governor’s decision, the lawsuit
maintains that the executives have
“unilaterally suspended civil liberties” and
deprived the restaurant owners of their
“property interests without due process.”
Tina Oppedisano, the manager of Il
Bacco whose father opened the restaurant
28 years ago, said that her father is “truly
the epitome of the American Dream.”
“What is happening to this country
and the city of New York in the past
six months is destroying that very same
American Dream that this country was
built on. Th e same dream that I was built
on,” Oppedisano said.
Queens Councilmen Robert Holden
and Eric Ulrich voiced their support of
the lawsuit at the event.
Holden said Mayor Bill de Blasio “has
been asleep at the wheel, during COVID,
before COVID and aft er COVID.” Holden
added that the City Council will fi ght to
bring back indoor dining, “not at a third
… at half if not full” capacity.
Photos by Dean Moses
Tina Oppedisano, manager of Little Neck’s Il
Bacco and daughter of the restaurant’s owner.
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