NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York City has entered Phase 4, but Manhattan is still a ghost town.
Small business owners are threatened with extinction, pleading with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to do something, find a solution.
As CBS2’s political reporter Marcia Kramer reports, the owner of Lili’s Bake Shop on Seventh Avenue in Midtown is so desperate to make ends meet he came up with a new product – chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick – hoping it will bring people into his business and save him from going under.
Here’s how bad it is: Pre-COVID, he had as many as 600 customers a day. And now?
“Ten, 15,” said Tarea Hassanio. “I can’t survive. I really can’t survive. I actually had a phone call with the landlord yesterday. He’s going to take me to court because I haven’t paid the rent. I asked for more time, but he said I can’t give you more time.”
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The plight of Lili’s Bake Shop is not unique. Hundreds, if not thousands, of small businesses are in the same shape. Because although New York City is officially in Phase 4, people are still working from home. Many are staying out of the city in places they sought refuge from COVID-19.
For Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the boss of all bosses when it comes to virus response, there is a heartfelt plea to do something.
“Please let the people out. Let them go back to work. Let them go back to work. We need people to go out. We need the economy to go back to normal,” Hassanio said.
Kramer put the question to Governor Cuomo.
“Is there, like, a Phase 4.5, or some plan that you have, to try to help businesses come back and bring money into New York City?” Kramer asked.
The governor was grim.
“Let’s not sugarcoat this. We’re going to have an issue,” he said.
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The governor spoke about problems in New York City: The crime, the homelessness, the graffiti, fears of taking mass transit. But he says he’s on it.
“We are working our way through it. I told you that I’ve been working with a reimagination commission, a reopening commission, I’m talking to business leaders. But this is going to take an affirmative effort. I don’t believe it’s going to be enough to just sit back and wait,” he said.
But nobody wants to wait. Not the hot dog vendor, not the pizza store owner, not the cheesecake bakery owner. He says he only has money for two more months rent.