COMMACK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — On Long Island, calls to reopen parts of the economy are getting louder.

Business owners say they won’t be able to survive much longer unless people can start getting back to work.

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Protesters came out in force at a closed mall in Commack on Friday, rallying to reopen New York swiftly, not gradually.

They claim they’re in a fight to survive.

“There are more people being hurt by this shutdown than the virus could ever hurt,” North Shirley resident George Pritchard said.

Their downtowns are dead, restaurants are shuttered and small business owners find it hard to stay afloat.

“These politicians that are forcing stores like mine to shut down, they need to trade places with us,” Suffolk small business owner Paula Evangelista said.

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Many are seeking federal payroll protection loans that have not yet come through.

“I understand the frustration that the protesters feel, I get it, however the last thing we want is a spike in infections,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

“The worst thing that could happen here is that we start to reopen the economy and then we see a surge in cases,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.


The virus is challenging the ability of once-vibrant areas to spring back to life after the pandemic.

On Friday, there was an unprecedented show of cooperation among all town supervisors on Long Island. They are united in plans and public health policies to safely reopen beaches, parks and playgrounds once they get the go-ahead from Albany.

“This is unique, all 13 of us know and interact with each other, but we’ve never done this in a collective fashion,” Babylon Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer said.

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Long Island Association‘s Kevin Law is charged with leading a regional approach to rebuilding the state.

“The immediate need is to focus on reopening and helping businesses comply … Then, what can we do now longer term to strengthen our economy?” Law said.

Business group leaders have a message to protesters: the economy will not truly reopen until everyone feels safe to be out in public again.

Comments (3)
  1. Gregg Kall says:

    I live in Syracuse. We have busted our butts to get the virus under control here. However, because you folks can’t get your act together, we are still in lockdown. Here’s an idea: build a wall closing off the upper suburbs to the rest of NYS, seal off the tunnels, tear down the bridges, and sink all ferries, then you can do whatever you want. Until then, get your acts together and get the virus under control!!!

  2. James Martin says:

    I bet families who lost their loved ones to this disease would LOVE to switch places with Paula Evangelista. Paula, you don’t have the right to endanger other the lives of others. Greed is not always good.

  3. louis11725 says:

    I am sure there is a better way to do it and handle the situation. It was how it was handled by the residents of Commack, NY that is off base completely.

    I live in the area. Many have had a bad attitude since I was a kid. They were practically on top of each other, many with no masks. Even people taking a walk around my neighborhood walked around with no masks.

    The same State they are protesting will be the same State they cry to if they get ill.

    I understand the predicament. EVERYONE is in the same situation. I am far from rolling in $100 bills and even further from being a millionaire.

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