“I’ve talked to lots and lots of business leaders, especially the smallest businesses. They’re very worried about their futures understandably, but they also are hanging on and they know it can be a matter of months until they’ll be back in action,” de Blasio said on WNYC Friday.
A caller named Cassius from Brooklyn urged Hizzoner to “take a more surgical approach” to the city’s COVID-19 response by finding a way to protect the elderly and health care workers while allowing businesses to reopen.
“We’re on the precipice of destroying the whole city basically,” Cassius said.
“I couldn’t disagree more with that core analysis,” de Blasio responded.
“Rushing back is consistently proven to have the boomerang effect and make things worse and cause bigger shutdowns because it’s not just about a small number of particularly vulnerable people,” de Blasio said.
He dismissed the caller’s “doomsday” concerns, even though a new analysis of state Department of Labor data by the independent nonprofit the Empire Center found the city lost 24.5% of private-sector jobs during the crisis.
City Councilman Mark Gjonaj blasted the mayor’s remarks.
“Out of all the things that have come out of his mouth this is the most outrageous. He lives in a de Blasio land. That is the furthest thing from the truth,” said the Bronx Democrat, who chairs the council’s small business committee.
“He is not in touch with reality and all he has to do is walk down a commercial corridor to understand what is happening to our small businesses,” Gjonaj said.
“He is setting up the city for failure. He’s going to leave City Hall in the worse condition that this city has experienced since World War II and the Great Depression,” he said.
“That would also explain why he only allocated $49 million in loans and grants, which is a fraction of a fraction of what these small businesses actually need,” Gjonaj said about de Blasio’s limited relief program for the city’s mom and pop shops.
The National Restaurant Association predicted that 11 percent of New York’s 25,000 restaurants will permanently close by the end of May, according to Eater.com. Iconic Big Apple eateries like Coogan’s Irish pub in Washington Heights and egg cream spot Gem Spa in the East Village have already shut their doors for good.
The Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon said the city has taken an unparalleled fiscal hit.
“For leisure and hospitality, including restaurants and hotels, the downturn equates to a virtual apocalypse — a job loss of 68 percent,” he said.
“There’s a great concern that many of these jobs are lost,” added McMahon, referring particularly to the restaurant and retail sectors whose business models are based on volume. “The slow reopening is not going to help the restaurant sector,” he said.