New York pub in coronavirus hotspot, declares itself ‘autonomous zone’

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The owners of a Staten Island, N.Y. pub, located in a coronavirus hot spot, took a page out of Seattle’s playbook by declaring its own “autonomous zone” and has defied restrictions as a last resort to save their business.

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The owners of Mac’s Public House, Keith McAlarney and Danny Presti, appeared on “Fox & Friends First” on Monday and expressed their frustration with the strict regulations for bars and restaurants, saying they are “unconstitutional.”

“Why is everybody allowed to cram themselves into a Target or a Best Buy or into the mall or any other large company, big corporation companies, and they’re there running shoulder to shoulder with each other and everything like that, but my establishment all of a sudden somehow seems to be the only place that somebody is able to contract corona,” McAlarney said on Monday.

“As if like we don’t know how it is to put safety measures in there so everybody can end up being safe.”

“For months, the whole entire food and beverage industry wanted to work with the government to end up helping them,” he added. “We’re the professionals when it comes to this.”

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He stressed that restaurants and bars “could have worked with” officials “hand in hand” to come up with “a better solution than just being lazy and saying that this side of the block you can’t open and that that side of the block you can open.”

Mac’s Public House has been staying open despite the fact that the pub is located in an “orange zone” in New York City, which means “restaurants, bars, cafes and other food service establishments can provide outdoor dining and takeout and delivery service only.”

The owners of Mac’s Public House on Staten Island, N.Y. said they are staying open despite orders from local officials.  (macspublichousesi.com)

There is a four-person maximum per table and no indoor dining is allowed in “orange zones,” according to NYC Health.

Fox News’ Carley Shimkus noted that the “state slapped Mac’s Public House with fines and suspended their liquor license.” Still, McAlarney and Presti have said they will keep their doors open.

“We’ve had a really tough time throughout all of this,” Presti added. “In the beginning, with the first shutdowns in March, we did everything to make it work. We couldn’t afford to have anybody in here.”

Presti went on to say that initially “we adapted to just take-out and delivery, we pumped as much food as we could in and out of the kitchen with just us and did every single regulation that they asked us to do, adapted as much as we could.”

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He said now “our backs are completely against the wall.”

“Our kind of motto right now is business as usual because we feel as though we understand the virus is happening and it’s a real thing, but we do know how to operate our business in a safe manner and we just can’t close again,” Presti explained, adding that “there’s no other option.”

He stressed that “there’s other businesses that are allowed to stay open and they have a ton of people walking around these places,” then asked, “Why should we not be allowed to operate in a safe manner?”

“At this point we can’t close down,” Presti continued.

Shimkus asked McAlarney if he thinks they will be able to “weather this storm.”

“Right now, I really don’t know,” McAlarney responded. “It’s very scary still.”

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Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all businesses that have a state liquor license and gyms to close by 10 p.m. in an effort to curb the rapid rise of coronavirus cases in the state.

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