July 21, 2020

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo                           

Governor of New York State

NYS State Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224                                         

Governor Cuomo:

Our coalition is writing on behalf of independently owned restaurants, bars, and tasting rooms in the greater Medina area. Our Upstate New York community has been part of a vibrant renaissance in recent years, one we hope to maintain during these challenging times. However, we all know it won’t be easy.

We appreciate the difficult decisions you’ve had to make and will continue to make. In recent days and weeks New York has been held up as an example on how to address the devastating effects of COVID-19. Your New York Forward approach has been credited as it allowed regions to move through advanced phases without needing to further pause while others met thresholds.

As of July 20, Orleans County has had 271 positive COVID-19 tests with over half coming from individuals over the age of 60. We trusted your decisions to effectively control the devastation we saw months back, and we stand proud of our community and our state. As we continue to chart our path forward and work toward more vibrant times, recent news that restaurants and bars might be forced to close again are unimaginable.

COVID-19 is not gone, New York is not in the clear, and we believe concerns of another wave hitting our state. At this moment, we can only do our best to continue using the guidance your administration has provided and act as frontline workers to make sure others follow these safety mitigation measures.

On May 5, Jennifer Rubin wrote in her Washington Post opinion piece “Govern by science, not your gut,” that you had it right. This has been the basis for the success New York has seen. Were closures frustrating, of course. But as we watch states who opened faster than data recommended fall back, we must also think your decisions were correct. That said, closing restaurants, bars, wineries, breweries, meaderies, and others does exactly the opposite of what’s made New York a success story.

“Wear a Mask” signs, constant Facebook posts outlining guidance for dining, Instagram images of staff wearing masks, floor markers outlining social distancing, nonstop discussions with patrons about staying seated, measuring the distance between seats/tables/walkways, and countless other items have been added to our operations. Your recent decision that mandates food accompanying alcoholic beverages was just another item we collectively added to our list. The majority of us realized this step was to address a real concern that could set all of us back. If you think it’s frustrating that rules are being followed, imagine how those of us who are following them feel. If you choose closure, it unjustly punishes those of us who are spending everyday to make sure our patrons, staff, and community remain safe. We don’t just think about those within our designated areas, but we’re constantly thinking about those around us.

To those who feel differently, who disregard the impact their decisions have on neighboring businesses, patrons who degrade our teams, and those who ignore the guidance we’re all following, shame on you. We’re not going to beat the pandemic as individuals, but by coming together as a team. While we’ll continue to look out for our neighboring businesses who are abiding by the rules, we need you to look out for us and allow us the opportunity to build ourselves back up. 

There is still a long road ahead and none of us know what the coming months will hold. We implore you to continue using a regional approach throughout the state, rather than punishing some of us for the indiscretions of others.

We greatly appreciate your continued leadership and thank you for your consideration during these challenging times. If you have any questions, we stand ready to discuss this topic further.