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Friday, September 18, 2020

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is bent on suffocating NYC with his loony rules

Andrew Cuomo is a mendacious, manipulative governor whose imperial ambitions sent Gotham into a death spiral. There’s no other way to reconcile his “plea” to rich friends to return to town with his abuse of power to discourage them from doing so.

What better way to keep away the rich, and immiserate everyone else, than by illogically locking down the restaurants, malls and cultural institutions that form the backbone of the city’s social life?

Restrictions on malls, museums and restaurants were lifted in every other region in New York state months ago. The reopening has generated no viral spikes or even upticks. But Cuomo has his eye on the White House. He’d love to run on a track record of “saving” New York. That depends on wresting $30 billion from the feds, 50 percent more than the city received after 9/11.

He’s counting on a Joe Biden victory in November. But even a Democratic president might balk at such a handout — that is, unless New York’s condition appears so dire that it might jeopardize the national economy. Which it soon will be, unless Cuomo’s ruinous Big Apple lockdowns are reversed.

The crazy-quilt lockdowns, nominally to protect our health, mainly just make the city as unappealing as possible while doing nothing to keep us safer from the coronavirus. The darkened sectors are precisely those most coveted not only by Cuomo’s 1 percent pals, but also by the merely affluent middle class, on whom the city’s daily commerce and vitality depend.

Shuttered restaurants, with no hint as to when they can reopen, are precisely why New Yorkers who skipped to the Hamptons, Connecticut or upstate won’t be rushing back. The indispensable revenue and daily spending they generate will stay behind with them. They’ll keep their distance until they have services and amenities that are part of their normal lives — but that are infuriatingly unavailable only in New York City.

Yes, it’s too soon to reopen live entertainment venues and gyms. Yes, lockdowns of construction, retail stores and those crucially important zoos have been lifted. But restaurants can’t serve indoors, which is the way the city’s 25,000 eateries, which employ 300,000 people, mainly do business.

Cuomo’s glib “We’ll go to dinner” line to his exiled pals was a cruel joke. He’d let the whole industry perish to ensure that his billionaire pals stay in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, where they’ve been happily noshing indoors since July 8.

Museums like the Met, central to our cultural life, can’t open, either. Nor can shopping malls, which are commercial sparkplugs, from Kings Plaza in Brooklyn’s Mill Basin to the Staten Island Mall in New Springville.

Cuomo’s stubbornness hasn’t been adequately explained — because there’s no way to justify it other than to cite COVID-19 spikes in other parts of the country that “reopened too soon.” But after the early bloodbath caused by his equally irrational nursing home orders, our rates of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths are the envy of the rest of the nation. The city’s new-infections rate has been a mere 1 percent or less for five days running.

Consider the contradictions in Cuomo’s screw-the-city straitjacket: If indoor dining at restaurants in Ithaca and Buffalo is safe, then it’s safe in the city as well. If indoor dining in the city is unsafe, then it’s unsafe elsewhere, too. If museums, most of which have vast, little-traversed floor area, might spread the virus, then so could subway stations, which have stayed open. Any busy supermarket or bodega has more human density than the Met’s Ancient Near Eastern Art gallery.

What makes a giant, usually crowded department store — they’re allowed to be open — less risky than a museum, which can more easily limit admissions? The mall restriction is plain looney. Cuomo wants malls to install advanced air-filtration systems. But then why not also everywhere else?

In the Brookfield Place Oculus, the blocks-long public concourse is open but the stores on either side are closed. Why, given that the danger supposedly lies in a mall’s open areas and that stores elsewhere are allowed to be open?

With their wide concourses and walkways, malls make it much easier for people to keep their distance than they can in individual stores, even at jumbos such as reopened Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, which have no such generous strolling grounds. Or does Cuomo think that malls are simply too large? Well, the department stores are much bigger than the Columbus Circle mall, for example. What gives?

The governor’s motives go unaddressed by pundits and media outlets in thrall to his suave style. This can’t last. The clock is ticking.

Read More at NYPost

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