MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — While some businesses have been allowed to reopen in the tri-state area, gyms and stores inside shopping malls remain closed, leading to more frustration for many business owners.
Owners of business inside shopping malls are astonished and upset because it looks like they won’t be able to open as previously promised, when Phase 4 arrives on Long Island.
Shopping mall parking lots are so empty, farm stands have moved in as the wait continues.
“It’s thousands upon thousands of jobs,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told reporters, including CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
There’s disappointment and anger at the news that Long Island’s shopping malls, theaters and gyms will not be allowed to reopen as expected under Phase 4.
It means more months without cash flow or sales taxes.
“And they are serious revenue generators for your local government,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.
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Larger mall stores with their own entrances have been allowed to reopen, but small retailers and food court franchises on interior corridors must remain closed for the foreseeable future.
“I think they should be able to open it and people can use their own judgment as to whether or not they feel safe in and out of a big mall like this,” Merrick shopper Susan Simeone said.
“I think they should be open. I think that a lot of people are hurting, a lot of employers, a lot of employees,” Baldwin shopper Edgar Meeks added.
“It has to be safety first, otherwise what we’re doing is just not going to work and we’ll have to shut everything down again,” added Steven Siegel of Plainview.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is worried about health gains going backward.
“Malls, movie theaters, and gyms … air conditioning may not be cleansing the air of the virus and just recirculating the virus,” Cuomo said.
“It is a huge impact to delay opening something like a mall,” said David Ackerman of Samanea New York Mall.
Ackerman said malls across Long Island have spent months building and installing new modern and costly air-filtration systems.
“What’s great in the shopping center business is that we have a structure that allows us to be even more ready than individual businesses,” Ackerman said.
And gyms both small and large say they have done the same thing, as big box stores remain open.
McLogan pressed Albany for an explanation and was told the governor will continually re-evaluate guidelines as more science comes in.
Phase 4 is set to begin on July 8 on Long Island.
Watch Cory James’ report —
Some store owners in New Jersey are in a similar position.
“I’m down down probably 98 percent of my sales,” store owner Julene Finley told CBS2’s Cory James.
She desperately wants to change that. She has her pottery, paint and PPE ready inside her shop at the Palisades Center, but escalators inside the mall lead to empty halls and temporarily closed businesses.
“What’s the difference of Target or Shop Rite? What difference does that make inside here?” Finley said. “If I were on a street anywhere, I would have been able to open already.”
Hoboken gym owner Jon Bevqua can related. He says he has lost about half of his 400 members.
Despite creating 16 new stations, spacing them all six feet apart and creating an instructional video for clients on how he will safely reopen, Bevqua is stuck at a light he is waiting to turn green.
“We keep getting push back, push back, push back,” he said. “It is frustrating. It’s frustrating to know that we have been responsible and that the state doesn’t trust us to be responsible.”
Setbacks for small businesses sitting in our current state of progress.