LITTLE NECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – It’s like a tale of two cities when it comes to dining on Long Island.
In Nassau County, you can eat indoors. In Queens and the rest of New York City, there is no indoor dining allowed.
Now hundreds of New York City restaurant owners are suing New York state.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports, September’s here and the days of outdoor dining are numbered. So Nassau County officials are inviting diners indoors, where they’ve been safely operating at 50% capacity for months.
“Many avid restaurant-goers and even casual eaters are literally going to be left out in the cold this winter, but don’t worry we’ve saved a seat for you right here in Nassau County,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
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But as Curran touted the safety of indoor dining, just blocks away on the city side of the Nassau-Queens border, Il Bacco restaurant is still closed indoors, with no end in sight. They’ve done all the prepping for a restart that never happened.
“I changed my air filters, I put sanitizer all over the restaurant,” said Il Bacco owner Joe Oppedisano.
Just two blocks from Nassau County, he has a plea.
“Very, very unfair. I’m pleading, like, please let us open up. I mean, come on. Enough is enough,” he said.
It’s more than a plea. He’s also now part of a lawsuit of 300 restaurant owners who are suing the state, claiming there’s no science behind the indoor ban for only New York City.
“There is no basis in science to say that a restaurant in Little Neck is more dangerous than a restaurant in Great Neck,” said attorney James Mermingis. “The New York City infection rate has been under 1% now for over two weeks. In fact it’s lower now than the suburban areas that surround New York City.”
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The governor’s senior advisors say the bottom line is that New York City was hit the hardest, and his actions have reduced infections in areas that were driving clusters. They say they understand some people are unhappy, but say it’s better they’re unhappy than sick – or worse.
Patrons near the Queens-Nassau border say the different rules make little sense.
“The restaurants in Connecticut, Hudson Valley, Long Island, they’ve been open for weeks and months, and there’s been no spike in COVID-19 cases. So I think it’s really time,” Great Neck resident Larry Penner said.
Until city indoor dining reopens, Nassau officials are capitalizing on proximity, with a “Discover Long Island” app offering dining deals and blitzing social media with reminders to “Taste Nassau Today.”
The lawsuit calls for an emergency hearing and claims billions of dollars in losses.
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