COVID-19 is Deadly—for Small Businesses

In my New York City neighborhood, COVID-19 is an even deadlier threat than it was a few months ago; a threat to small businesses, brought on by the failure of local Democrats. I’m speaking about the neighborhood I live in and love, Bay Ridge (but there are many more like it throughout NYC). Situated in South Brooklyn, the area is defined by its local shops run by longtime residents as well as recent arrivals. If you’ve ever traveled over the Verrazano Bridge, you at least drove through it. If you’re lucky, you grabbed a bite to eat at one of its many diverse eateries. Sadly, that pizza, gyro, or burger place you popped into might already be gone.

As a resident of this haven for young families and nightlife, I’ve grown weary not as much of being locked down in the time of COVID-19, but instead of witnessing the devastation of those shops. As the hardships for these businesses deepened over the last four months, Democrats in charge at every level of government have seemingly ignored their suffering.

From our local City Council Representative, to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, up to Governor Andrew Cuomo, none have done enough to save these businesses from collapse.

To the contrary, the far-left Democrats who run the city and state have reserved their greatest energy for the most radical of pet causes, like “defunding” the NYPD. The previously mentioned City Council Rep, Justin Brannan, voted yes last month for the budget that slashed the NYPD’s funding by about one billion dollars. Mayor de Blasio for his part has quadrupled down on his animosity toward New York’s Finest, who under Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg helped New York City achieve the status of “safest big city in America.” These days you can find de Blasio serving as panderer-in-chief at photo-op publicity stunts, like painting a block-long Black Lives Matter sign on the stretch of Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower.

So while Hizzoner stands down in the face of soaring crime, he seeks to stand up to President Trump, who is actually dedicated to restoring law and order where it is so desperately needed—in failing Democrat-run cities such as ours. At the same time, these elected imposters have stoked protests that play to their base, as they ignore community outcry to stem skyrocketing crime that is further deepening the hole created by draconian and arbitrary COVID-19 restrictions.

Speaking of heavy handed constraints on business owners, Governor Cuomo has seemingly sought to do for them what he did for thousands of New York seniors, by issuing confusing and sometimes nonsensical pronouncements. For example, his famous judgement that chicken wings are not “food” enough for the state’s requirement that bars serve something of “substance” along with cold beer. This would be a great setup for a joke about out-of-touch bureaucrats, if it was not so deadly serious for bars at risk of being shut down by the State Liquor Authority.

This is precisely what moved me last month to do my part to help my community, by encouraging my fellow neighbors to come out of hiding and show those local businesses some love with their patronage. The social media scolds and clueless “Karens” did not deter me. I knew that we could do this safely. After all, I had observed for months that we could follow social distancing guidelines at the local grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks. Taking reasonable precautions amid the pandemic versus patronizing businesses and living your life is a false choice! (Much like allowing children to attend school this Fall, but that is a topic for another day.)

So, I organized an effort, to remind everyone in the neighborhood that these establishments are open and need our business to survive. I talked to many small business owners about just how desperate the situation had become. Along with the participation of a strictly non-partisan Facebook group that focuses on restaurants and bars in this part of Brooklyn, I soon had more than fifty local spots participating in the event. I called it “Boost Bay Ridge” because it’s meant to literally boost business for all those suffering entrepreneurs.

What it amounts to is a reminder that hey, these places are here, they’re open for business and this is still a free country!

The response was overwhelming. The “Boost Bay Ridge” Facebook event I set up had more than 800 replies within days. Flyers displayed by the businesses emphasized the importance of making this a safe, enjoyable, and positive way to support the community while getting out of the house on a Saturday afternoon.

When the “Boost Bay Ridge” events took place, Saturday June 6 and again Saturday June 13, the neighborhood flooded with people and most were doing what they had been doing already, acting responsibly. On June 22, New York City entered Phase 2 and outdoor seating at restaurants and bars was finally given the go ahead. It was encouraging to see these places get the green light to once again serve their customers on-premise, all be it greatly reduced from their normal capacity.

When I had a proper seated dinner out with my family for the first time in months, we headed to Pippin’s Pub on 3rd Avenue. They, along with many of the restaurants, had done a terrific job of setting up accommodating seating with the recommended spacing. After dinner, we walked around the neighborhood and saw life being breathed back into our local streets. The businesses really needed this. Given the city’s predictably inept response to date, it’s almost shocking that they opened the door just a bit, allowing these establishments to serve their customers once again. However that is a far cry from the boost they rightfully expected from their public servants. They need to at last allow indoor service (with reasonable limitations). While they’re at it, they must make it safe to go out by restoring law and order to the streets across our city.

On behalf of my neighbors, I’m calling upon our local elected officials to stop pandering to the extreme left wing attacks on law enforcement that are making our streets less safe and take a braver stand for our local small businesses.

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Joe Pally

Joe Pally is a writer and comedian, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. His comedy pushes the buttons of political correctness while exploring everything from his upbringing to current events and daily life. You can follow him on Twitter @jpally.

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