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Republican state lawmakers blasted Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday for refusing to say when New York City restaurants can resume indoor dining — and unveiled a series of measures intended to aid the state’s struggling hospitality industry.
The plan — timed to coincide with this year’s pandemic-inspired “NYC Restaurant Week To Go” — includes prohibiting app-based delivery services from charging higher fees than they did on March 1, 2020, shortly before Cuomo ordered a coronavirus lockdown.
Other proposals would automatically extend liquor licenses for one year, temporarily lift state taxes on food and drinks sold at restaurants and bars, and provide small businesses with a 90-day grace period to pay any state fees or penalties.
State Sen. George Borrello (R-Jamestown) — a restaurateur who owns Villagio Italiano and Cabana Sam’s Sunset Bay Grill outside Buffalo — accused Cuomo of failing to understand the importance of his industry.
“It’s Restaurant Week in New York City right now,” he said during a news conference in Albany.
“Normally, a great way to not only put a boost to our economy but highlight some of the great institutions — and that has been absolutely shuttered by not only the pandemic, but by bad policy.”
Borrello, whose sponsoring the GOP relief package, said his business was “cash-flow positive in the first quarter of 2020 and since then it went south with our revenues.”
“There’s been a lot of fear created out there and as a result, people are hesitant in a lot of ways to come in,” he said.
“We’re not going to be making money any time soon.”
Sen. Mike Martucci (R-Kingston) claimed that the Empire State was “leading the nation in the number of closures of restaurants across our state.”
“The folks that own restaurants — our small business owners – are our friends and our neighbors,” he said.
“And each one of us has a memory, a fond memory, at a local bar or restaurant or our favorite tavern.”
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said, “The Governor just laid out a bold and far-reaching plan to reopen and fully restart our economy safely after a year of fighting this pandemic, including $130 million relief plan for restaurants and small businesses – but let’s be clear all of our decisions are based in data and science, not on politics and what you think would make people happy, public health be damned.”
Meanwhile, the state Assembly on Tuesday was set to consider several small-business relief bills passed last week by the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Those proposals include moratoriums on foreclosures and eviction until May 1, a 15 percent cap on app-based delivery fees and a one-year freeze on the cost of unemployment insurance.
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