NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There was a showdown on Staten Island Thursday, where the owner of a tanning salon ignored Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s edict to stay closed.
Police showed up, but so did hundreds of other business owners who say they’ve had enough.
It started with a rally outside the Sunbelievable tanning salon on Staten Island, with some 300 angry small busines owners anxious to reopen, reported CBS2’s Marcia Kramer.
“We are literally seeing with our own eyes a fight between socialism and capitalism, and in my mind, in America, capitalism is everything,” said John Tabacco.
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They are frustrated with de Blasio, anxious to open their businesses and feed their families, and fed up with being told to wait.
Bobby Catone, the owner of the tanning salon, defied the mayor by opening it up.
“We’re booked up today,” a receptionist said to a person calling for an appointment.
City Councilman Joe Borelli tried to buy suntan lotion when the mayor’s cavalry arrived, slapping Catone with a $1,000 ticket, which he promptly ripped up. Then Catone closed up shop because cops threatened to arrest him and take his license, Kramer reported.
“I am in enough financial burden. I can’t have my license taken away. This will just make it worse. We’re going to continue the fight. This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Catone said.
That’s not the only place the mayor cracked the whip. Today, he said nine businesses in Borough Park that opened yesterday were shut down, but CBS2 found some reopened. Skittish owners tried to shut their doors when they saw CBS2’s cameras.
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“If any of them are found operating again, that begins with a $1,000 daily fine. If they’re found in violation again, there’s another fine, and that keeps escalating from there,” de Blasio said.
The mayor just not interested in what the business owners had to say, claiming the city has to reopen with caution.
“The bottom line is you don’t get to jump the gun,” de Blasio said.
The owners of restaurants, stores and beauty shops on Staten Island say the mayor is tone deaf.
“I’m out of business. I’ve got a million and a half dollar business and I’ve got nothing, I’m totally broke,” one business owner said.
“We don’t even know what phase we are. We’re in a dead phase,” said another.
The mayor estimated that as many as 400,000 people would be able to return to work when the city starts reopening on a limited basis next month.