Decision on orange zone regulation lawsuit expected Wednesday

Patrick Moussignac
Updated: January 08, 2021 11:10 PM
Created: January 08, 2021 09:41 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — News10NBC continues to follow the lawsuit filed on behalf of nearly 100 restaurants located in area orange zones that are suing the governor, in an effort to reopen for indoor dining. A State Supreme Court Judge in Buffalo says a decision will be made on Wednesday.

What this decision ultimately means for now is that these orange zone restaurants are losing out on another weekend of indoor dining sales.

Supreme Court Judge Henry Nowak says a review of the lawsuit is currently underway. Restaurant owners have been asking to reopen under the same guidelines they had back in June. The guidelines allowed 50% capacity for indoor dining. Veneto Restaurant's Operating Manager Don Swartz is part of the lawsuit. He shared his thoughts on the judge's review.

"Who knows what gonna happen. We feel that 50% is a decent compromise. I know I can serve people safely. I know I can follow the CDC guidelines, the Monroe County guidelines. I know I can offer that at 50%," Swartz said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stood firm on limiting orange zone restaurants to just take-out orders and deliveries. Some Rochester restaurants like Bitter Honey are offering diners outdoor pods as a way to work around current restrictions to be able to financially survive. On Friday, Jine's restaurant announced that it has temporarily shut its doors. This got the attention of the Monroe County Democratic Caucus. 

"To me, that's a wake-up call that we really do need to focus on finding a balance between public health, and protecting and advocating for our small businesses," Monroe County Legislator Linda Hasman (D-23rd) said.

The Democratic Caucus is pushing for both the state and federal government to do more as these businesses continue to face uncertain times.

"If the restaurants do have to close then they do need compensation. They do need support from the state government and the federal government," Hasman said.

For Swartz, having the support of the Democratic Caucus is encouraging.

"That put some hope and smile. I imagine the Republican Caucus is gonna be right next to them. Let's get together. Let's show the governor that we can do this. We can do this safely," Swartz said.

If the judge decides against the restaurants, Swartz says an appeal will be filed immediately at the Appellate Division Fourth Department of the State Supreme Court here in Rochester.

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