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Nonessential businesses can't 'jump the gun' on reopening; fines will be issued, de Blasio says

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Posted at 11:48 AM, May 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-28 22:55:48-04

NEW YORK — As New York City remains the only region in the state not qualified to reopen, Mayor de Blasio warned nonessential businesses not to open up unless they have been advised to.

The mayor was asked about the city’s reopening guidelines regarding small businesses that planned to reopen Thursday or before they are given the green light.

“Businesses are not supposed to make their own rules and jump the gun,” de Blasio said during his daily coronavirus briefing Thursday.

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic, we’re in the middle of a crisis. The only way we have gotten things together is by sticking together and following the rules.”

De Blasio said any nonessential business that attempts to reopen will be asked to shut down. If they ignore instructions, business owners will be met with a $1,000 fine.

If those businesses continue to try reopening, the fines will “keep going,” he added.

This comes as hundreds of local small business owners said they intend to open this month, with or without the government’s permission.

Worries about the future have concerned a coalition of small business owners who are not lucky enough to be declared “essential businesses."

Nearly 300 business owners said they'd reopen and have pledged to wear masks, require customers to wear masks, provide sanitizing agents and gloves when necessary, limit foot traffic and comply with all recommended “essential business” social distancing guidelines.

The owner of Sunbelievable tanning salon in Staten Island, Robert Catone, planned to reopen his business Thursday, arguing his business met all CDC criteria to open.

Crowds gathered outside the tanning salon Thursday, including several Staten Island officials, calling on state officials to allow the city to reopen. After reopening, police arrived and issued the owner a summons. Catone then told the media that he received a call from the mayor's office, threatening to take away his health department license if he continues operating.

At least nine businesses have shut down in the last 48 hours, according to the mayor. If any are found in operation again, they will be fined.

De Blasio said NYC has seen great progress in its battle with the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s no exact date set, but the mayor expects the city to begin Phase 1 of reopening in the first or second week of June “if numbers continue to progress.”