Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup, Apr. 30, 2020

COVID-19 molecule
COVID-19 (Credit: CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS)

Hoylman, Epstein, Rosenthal Condemn De Blasio Funeral Comments

State Senator Brad Hoylman
State Senator Brad Hoylman

State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Chelsea, Midtown West) and Assemblymembers Harvey Epstein (D-Lower East Side, East Village, Murray Hill) and Linda Rosenthal (D-Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen) represented Manhattan  when they co-signed a letter Wednesday criticizing Mayor Bill De Blasio (D) for apparently scapegoating the Jewish community for the coronavirus, the New York Post reported.

The letter comes after De Blasio warned “the Jewish community” that they would be arrested for violating social distancing regulations following the funeral of a Hasidic rabbi in Williamsburg. Despite approval from the NYPD and efforts to maintain safety precautions, it was ultimately canceled after going out of control. Over one hundred religious, community, and political leaders and organizations also signed. 

“In the midst of a historic wave of antisemitic hate violence in New York City, our community — like the Asian community — has been feeling the pain of being singled out and blamed for the spread of this deadly disease,” they wrote.

“This singling out is especially potent because it aligns with longstanding antisemitic tropes that have, for millennia, blamed Jews for societal ills,” it continues. “Laying blame upon Hasidic communities — among the most visible members of our Jewish family — will not stop the spread of COVID-19, and referring to these particular communities as ‘the Jewish community’ both flattens a diverse group of New Yorkers into a single bloc and fuels the anti-Semitic hatreds that bubble beneath the surface of our society.”

Rosenthal Grills Resumed Construction at 200 Amsterdam

Council Member Helen Rosenthal
Council Member Helen Rosenthal

Councilmember Helen Rosenthal (D-Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Central Park) wrote a letter to Mayor Bill De Blasio (D) Monday after the city permitted SJP Developers to resume construction on a luxury condominium at 200 Amsterdam Avenue, NY1 reported Monday.

Though construction of the development initially halted amid the coronavirus crisis, it began again after the city Department of Building claimed it was necessary emergency work. Still, Upper West Siders – Rosenthal included – are not happy with the renewed work.

“While a majority of construction sites on the West Side Complied with the order,  SJP continued to apply for emergency construction permits to complete outstanding non-emergency electrical work nearly two weeks after the Governors order went into effect,” Rosenthal wrote.  

Rivera Introduces Bill to Protect Business Owners Who Violate Leases

Council Member Carlina Rivera
Council Member Carlina Rivera

The City Council recently saw the introduction of a bill that would protect business owners from legal action if they violate their lease terms, The Real Deal reported yesterday.

The bill, introduced by Councilmember Carlina Rivera (D-East Village, Gramercy Park), would prohibit the enforcement of personal liability provisions until September. The bill is specifically intended to protect tenants affected by COVID-19. Attempting to enforce those provisions would qualify as tenant harassment.

“This bill is critical bc it ensures biz owners do not face personal financial ruin/bankruptcy due to COVID-19,” Rivera said in a tweet.

However, her bill has received some pushback, on the grounds that it may be unconstitutional. According to the Real Estate Board of New York, the bill constitutes a “seemingly impermissible unilateral amendment of existing valid contracts.”