Orthodox Jewish Lawmakers Throw Up Red Flag Over Red Zone


State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Midwood, Flatbush, Borough Park, Kensington, Sunset Park, Madison, Bensonhurst) today lauded Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that Brooklyn’s Red Zone focus zone area has new boundaries to reflect a decreased positivity rate and new daily cases of Coronavirus in certain neighborhoods.

A red, orange and yellow zone was made in several southern Brooklyn neighborhoods where COVID numbers were climbing with red being neighborhoods where Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio closed what they deemed as non-essential businesses and limited attendance in houses of worship to 10 people or 25% capacity.

The Brooklyn micro-cluster, the red zone, is working, and it’s working well, and we’re going to reduce the size of the red zone by 50 percent. And we’ll put out a map today that shows the exact parameters of that reduction, but it’s a reduction of 50 percent and the yellow zone is also reduced 50 percent (Click Here for Map),” said Cuomo.

Felder, whose senatorial district includes much of these zones, said, “Following weeks of work with the Governor’s office to ease restrictions in the red zone, we are finally turning a corner. There is some comfort in knowing that many people who live and work in the downgraded area will enjoy some peace of mind this weekend.”

Felder said while some restrictions are being lifted it will not affect his Save Our Stores Act legislation that he is spearheading on the state level, along with Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein (D-Borough Park) that would waive payment of fines and penalties incurred during the Covid-19 state of emergency.

The legislation, which Felder said will likely be introduced in the next state legislative session, also has a city component, in which City Councilmembers Kalman Yeger (D-Borough Park, Flatbush, Midwood) and Chaim Deutsch (D-Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Homecrest, Midwood) will introduce the measure in the city council.

The lawmakers said they are introducing the measures on both the state and city levels because some of the tickets and summonses handed out to business owners were from the state while others are from the city.

“We will not be complicit in the pillaging of New York’s hardworking small business owners. Months of lock down brought our small businesses to the brink of extinction. These exorbitant fines will be the last nail in the coffin. They don’t deserve this punishment. Their only sin is a desire to work when government policy is determined to bankrupt them. Red-zone businesses cannot become collateral damage in our fight against COVID,” said Felder.

“We have a responsibility to do everything in our power to save New York’s small business owners from any additional burdens during these exceptional times, and forgive these senseless Covid-related fines immediately. The legislation my colleagues and I are proposing is an SOS to save our stores,” said Senator Felder.

Eichenstein said as small businesses were on the verge of bankruptcy, the city decided to harass and unjustly issue summonses and fines while big-box chain stores were allowed to thrive.

“It’s a sad day when our own government delivers a fatal blow to business owners who are about to lose it all. This legislation is a step forward in doing right by our small business owners and perhaps can help them get back on their feet and focus on reopening their businesses as they just try to make an honest living,” said Eichenstein.

Yeger called Felder’s legislation exactly the right step towards achieving justice for overburdened community businesses.

“Over the last few weeks, it has become so obvious that our community is being targeted with enforcement unseen anywhere else in New York.  Dozens of Quota Agents from the alphabet-soup of agencies have descended on our neighborhood, not to educate businesses how to better comply with ever-changing rules, but rather to issue onerous – and many times, false – violations.  The only way to address these summonses is through legislation that will zero out the penalties,” said Yeger.

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