The Staten Island bar owner who was arrested this week for defying New York’s Covid-19 restaurant restrictions said he ‘lost faith’ in Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who he suggested wanted to punish small business owners.
Danny Presti of Mac’s Public House said he and the co-owner, Keith McAlarney, were tired of pleading with New York officials for help during the pandemic.
‘We’ve pleaded with them to work with us and other small businesses,’ Presti told Fox News on Friday.
‘At this point…we are losing faith, and kind of lost faith in the ability for our local and city governments to help us.’
Danny Presti (right), co-owner of Mac’s Public House in Staten Island, said on Friday that he ‘lost faith’ in New York officails like Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Presti clarified that local government officials had made efforts to help businesses, but ‘the governor and the mayor seem like they don’t want anything.’
‘So if they don’t give us assistance in some way, or are working with us to get back open in a safe manner, we’re going to have to take things into our own hands.’
And that’s exactly what Presti and other local business owners have attempted to do in Staten Island, where the seven-day positivity rate is 8.06 per cent.
On Tuesday, dozens of the bar’s supporters and other local business owners gathered outside of Mac’s Public House to protest Gov. Cuomo’s latest Covid-19 restrictions.
As of November 23, indoor dining was banned in part of Staten Island after an uptick in positivity rates, hospitalizations and cases struck the borough.
It was classified as an ‘orange zone,’ meaning all indoor dining has been banned and outdoor dining has a four-person maximum. This comes after Cuomo implemented a statewide curfew that required businesses to stop on-premises consumption at 10pm.
People gather outside of the restaurant Mac’s Public House for a rally against state and city mandates to stop indoor dining to control the spread of the coronavirus, in Staten Island, New York
Anti-lockdown protesters arrived with American flags and hoisting signs to help bolster support for Mac’s Public House in Staten Island
Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned indoor dinin in parts of Staten Island that experienced coronavirus case increases, as well as implemented a statewide 10pm curfew
Eateries were one of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic, with many struggling to remain open as the number of customers took a dive and restrictions on occupancy affected revenue.
Restaurateurs in New York City over the summer have criticized both Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio for what they’ve described as never-ending fines.
Mac’s Public House repeatedly flouted Cuomo’s orders. They remained open after the 10pm curfew, served local customers inside when indoor dining was halted and continued even after its liquor license was suspended.
Presti and McAlarney bypassed the suspended license by serving free alcohol in exchange for donations.
As cease-and-desist orders were issued, along with a number of fines, the owners declared Mac’s Public House an ‘autonomous zone,’ referring to Seattle’s CHOP created amid the George Floyd protests.
But on Tuesday, Presti was handcuffed and escortedfrom Mac’s Public House by New York City sheriff’s deputies over the violations.
Danny Presti (center) was arrested outside of Mac’s Public House on Tuesday after the restaurant flouted Cuomo’s coronavirus restrictions
Pictured: An attorney for the owner of the bar Louis Gerolmino, (C), is seen outside of the Mac’s Public House after closed it down amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Staten Island borough of New York City
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (pictured) suggested that Presti’s arrest was a consequence and said ‘breaking the law and putting your neighbors’ lives at risk during a global pandemic to make a political statement is simply unacceptable’
At least five New York City Sheriff’s deputies descended on Lincoln Avenue to execute a cease-and-desist order.
Presti was arrested after repeatedly ignoring orders to stop serving customers and operating without a license. His lawyer said Presti was issued three summons.
Cuomo on Wednesday released a statement addressing Presti’s arrest.
‘This owner is learning that actions have consequences. Breaking the law and putting your neighbors’ lives at risk during a global pandemic to make a political statement is simply unacceptable,’ it read.
While speaking on Fox News, Presti argued that he wanted to keep politics out of the conversation and urged officials for more assistance.
‘We just need in some way to either be assisted or to get our places open and these state agencies and city agencies that come in and threaten to fine us or pull our licenses every single day, it’s not right,’ he told Fox News.
Instead of receiving that help, Presti described agencies like New York’s liquor authority and the TSA ‘kicking open the door and then threatening tens of thousands of dollars of fines every single day.’
Presti left a final message for Cuomo and de Blasio on Friday.
‘You need to assist us,’ said Presti, as it was noted restaurants just blocks away were allowed to have indoor dining as a ‘yellow zone.’
During the anti-lockdown protest, Republican Senator Andrew Lanza, who represents the 24th District which encompasses much of Staten Island, arrived on the scene and demanded officers explained why they had arrested Presti.
‘This order simply says that they need to cease and desist,’ Lanza told the crowd and officers while he looked through the order.
He then asked officers for answers about the owner’s arrest.
‘Nowhere here is there an arrest warrant, nowhere here is anything about arresting anyone on their private property.
Pictured: A man holds a copy of the Declaration of Independence while people protest outside of the Mac’s Public House after it closed down amid the coronavirus pandemic
People protest outside of the Mac’s Public House after closed it down as the coronavirus disease pandemic in the Staten Island borough of New York City
‘So I’ll ask, you don’t have to answer… why was he arrested? I was told you would tell me why he was arrested and now I’m asking for that answer.’
‘And I can assure everybody there wasn’t a person in the place that was disorderly, disrespectful or not courteous,’ he said.
Staten Island emerged as a New York City hot spot. As of December 1, there were 215 new cases, three deaths and a seven-day average of 17 hospitalizations.
Officials Staten Island have recorded a total of 4,708 infections, 201 deaths and 628 hospitalizations. The borough’s Covid-19 case numbers are only second to the Bronx.
New York City has amassed more than 326,000 cases and 24,000 deaths so far. The United States has surpassed 14million cases and 278,000 deaths.