Restaurant owners and employees in a Westchester town among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic rallied together to demand they be allowed to reopen their businesses to indoor diners.
A rally attended by dozens in Port Chester marched from Grace Street Church on Wednesday, Dec. 30 down to Village Hall to protest the suspension of indoor dining due to Port Chester’s designation as a COVID-19 “orange hotspot.”
In order to qualify for the "orange zone," an area has to have a seven-day rolling average positivity above 3 percent for 10 days and 10 or more new daily cases per 100,000 residents on a seven-day average, according to New York's guidelines on dining during the pandemic.
According to the county Department of Health, there are currently 320 active COVID-19 cases in Port Chester, which also features a small surrounding “yellow zone” outside the “orange zone.”
Port Chester is currently the only municipality in Westchester to earn the “orange” designation. “Yellow zones” have also been declared in Ossining, Yonkers, New Rochelle, and Peekskill.
The parts of Port Chester that are in the "orange zone" cannot open for indoor dining under New York State’s COVID-19 guidance, though they are permitted to continue their take out or delivery options under an Executive Order signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year.
Gyms and salons in the “orange zone” were also under the same restrictions as restaurant owners, though Cuomo offered them a reprieve and permitted them to reopen under 25 percent capacity following a rally of their own earlier this month.
According to reports, the restaurant owners are asking to be allowed to open up to 25 percent or 50 percent capacity as they continue dealing with the financial fallout caused by the pandemic.
“The science doesn’t add up,” march organizer Carlos Santos, the owner of Aqui Es Santa Fe Restaurant posted online. “There is no common sense … we’re being left to die with no logical answers (and) it’s time to do something.”
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