LAKE GEORGE — About 30 to 40 vehicles drove slowly down Canada Street on Saturday, as drivers honked horns and passengers yelled out the window, urging the governor to allow limited outdoor dining in the next phase of reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event was put on by the Alliance for Lake George Business. One of the organizers, Adirondack Pub & Brewery owner John Carr, said the goal was to get the message to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to permit some outdoor dining.
Carr said restaurant owners believe that the existing allowance of only curbside takeout or pickup does not work that well in a resort area such as Lake George. In other places, people will drive up, get their food and then go back home to eat it. However, what business owners saw during Memorial Day weekend was not good for public health. People do not have a place to sit to eat, wash their hands or go to the bathroom.
“Families are sitting in the gutter on Canada Street eating their dinners. No one is protected with that — whether it’s COVID-19 or basic human sanitation,” he said.
The restaurants are proposing what he is calling “enhanced takeout,” with some limited outdoor seating.
“We’re talking about outdoor dining in a controlled environment,” he said.
Carr said restaurants are already know how to undertake sterilization and sanitation procedures.
Another issue is that all the takeout meals are generating a lot of garbage that piles up, according to Carr.
He said allowing some outdoor seating would be a great interim measure until the region moves to Phase 3 when restaurants can reopen.
The restaurant community is not looking to go “rogue,” but wants to restart its economy, which generates tax dollars that are important for local schools, infrastructure and social services.
Also participating in the protest was Jane Schmidt, owner of Bank Coffee on Canada Street.
“It’s all we want — a little bit of outdoor (seating),” she said.
She said people are sitting on retaining walls and the sidewalk and she does not think that is safe.
Charles Meschino, owner of S.J. Garcia’s, said his restaurant is doing takeout, but he believes restaurants need outdoor options.
“We need people. We can’t make money without people here,” he said.
Diana Smith, a visitor from the Albany area, said she thought it would be a good idea to have some outdoor dining options.
Glena Mata, who was visiting from hard-hit Long Island, did not like the idea. He was worried about infection.
Village Mayor Robert Blais said the Warren County reopening task force has been speaking with the governor’s office on this issue, but has not made any headway.
Blais said the village has come up with another idea to allow businesses to erect a tent on their property to expand seating capacity. When the region reopens in Phase 3, there likely will be a cap on inside seating.
“Our business is dependent on the season from May to October,” he said.
Another idea the village is working on is erecting its own tent to create an outdoor food court on Montcalm Street, which is off Canada Street. The restaurants would provide the wait staff and tables. The village has asked the state for permission to do this, but has not yet received an answer.
Few new cases
It was a relatively quiet Saturday for the region in terms of COVID-19 cases.
Warren County reported no additional cases, staying at 243. The breakdown is 117 involving residents in nursing homes, 12 in assisted living and 114 in the community.
A total of 68 coronavirus cases from nursing homes in the county have been deemed recovered. They had been labeled mildly ill for an extended period of time, according to a news release.
Three COVID-19 patients are in critical condition as of Saturday, which is an increase of one from Friday. Two are hospitalized and one is in a nursing home.
Four COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, which is unchanged from Friday. Two are moderately ill and two are critically ill.
The county also received an additional 1,000 coronavirus test kits that can be used at the Glens Falls Hospital/Warren County Health Services site at the Warren County Municipal Center.
Washington County reported no changes at all. The number of cases is at 203. The number of people who have recovered is at 177 and there have been 13 deaths.
Saratoga County had three new cases for a total of 475. The number of hospitalizations remained the same at six and the number of deaths was unchanged at 15.
Essex County did not report any updated numbers.
Statewide, the number of deaths from the coronavirus is at an all-time low. Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported at his daily briefing that 67 people died Friday from the virus. Forty-seven were in hospitals and 20 in nursing homes.
Cuomo also signed a bill that establishes a death benefit for families of state and local government employees who have lost a loved one due to COVID-19.
Cuomo addresses racism in health, justice
Cuomo also weighed in on the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who died in police custody. The governor said this is another example of racism and inequality.
He said there is also an inequality in health care. There has been a higher COVID-19 infection rate in minority communities.
Cuomo called for an end to the violent protests because he said it obscures the message.
“The violence allows people to talk about the violence, as opposed to honestly addressing the situation that incited the violence,” he said.
Cuomo is also asking Attorney General Letitia James to conduct a review of the New York City Police Department’s actions in dealing with protesters on Friday. There were violent clashes between protesters and police.
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