Updated: January 12, 2021 11:15 PM
Created: January 12, 2021 02:57 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren is asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reconsider regulations that prohibit restaurants in Rochester's orange zone from offering indoor dining.
She sent a letter to the governor Tuesday, saying that the fact that restaurants in Rochester's orange zone are mostly small, family-owned, non-franchise restaurants, puts them at a disadvantage and forces Rochester residents to leave the city and patronize suburban businesses instead.
The letter also points out that the city's efforts to help restaurants get more outdoor dining traffic by providing restaurants with temporary greenhouses were stopped by Empire State Development.
"We hope to begin installing greenhouses in just a couple weeks, but have been told by ESD, without any written justification, that they violate Orange Zone requirements. At this point we’re doing everything we can to help our restaurants survive, but at every turn, without data or any other justification, our businesses are being arbitrarily penalized," the letter reads.
The letter reiterates the point that indoor dining has not been demonstrated to be a significant source of the spread of COVID-19. A lawsuit filed by more than 100 restaurants in the Finger Lakes and Western New York areas makes the same argument.
Read Mayor Warren's full letter in the document below:
The letter comes following numerous News10NBC investigations that exposed the plight of restaurant owners in orange zones forced to remain closed for months.
Now the entire Finger Lakes region has more than three times the positivity rate that triggered labeling some areas as orange zones, and restaurants outside orange zones have been able to remain open.
Last week, News10NBC's Deanna Dewberry asked Warren if she planned to advocate for Rochester restaurants.
Dewberry: "In Syracuse for example, the mayor has written a letter to the governor asking for restaurants to be released from the shackles of being closed for something that now seems arbitrary."
Warren: "I am committed to working with the governor's office and with the restaurants to try and get that moved that barrier removed because at this point and time as you said it looks arbitrary."
The Rochester chapter of the restaurant association is now asking the state for equity in COVID-19 regulations before the industry's collapse.
They've started passing around a petition demanding the right to reopen.
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