NEW YORK____A City Councilman from Brooklyn is calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to allow mom-and-pop shops that haven’t received government loans during the pandemic to reopen so they don’t have to close forever.
“Small businesses are suffering tremendously during the shutdown — forced to shutter for months and unable to pay rent and meet their basic needs,” Councilman Chaim Deutsch told The Post.
“These business owners initially took on these losses knowing that they needed to make sacrifices in order to keep others safe. Now with the curve flattened and data trending positively, these small business owners are still being told that they still cannot reopen, even with careful safety precautions,” the south Brooklyn Democrat said.
The storefronts are also not part of an eventual phase one reopening that de Blasio announced Thursday could start by June 15. The first businesses to return online next month would be in the construction, manufacturing and wholesale industries as well as some retail locations with curbside pickup.
Ernest and Marie Louinis, who own a second-hand furniture store in Flatbush, told The Post they back Deutsch’s plan.
The couple closed their store, The Thrift Shop on Nostrand Avenue, in early March and laid off two employees.
“I’m paying rent and I don’t have a business,” Marie Louinis said. “We are working on getting a loan but nothing yet.”
The mother of four said if she could reopen she would space customers six feet apart and limit entry to three people at a time.
“I could get it clean and open in two days,” she said, adding that she’d regularly blitz her store with Lysol and Clorox to keep it sanitary.
Deutsch said many immigrant entrepreneurs like the Louinis family who are from Haiti have had trouble navigating bureaucratic red tape to secure aid.
“Over 50 percent of small businesses in New York City are immigrant, women, minority and veteran-owned. These are the communities that will be hardest hit by an economic downturn,” Deutsch said.
“It is critical that they be allowed to reopen safely. If not, many will shut their doors permanently.”
At a hearing Wednesday council members demanded more support for small businesses, but de Blasio administration officials said its $59 million grants and loans program had run dry.
“That’s equivalent to about $12,000 plus-or-minus, per business,” said Mark Gjonaj (D-The Bronx). “It’s not nearly enough,” he said of the city’s aid package.
De Blasio’s Small Business Services Commissioner Jonnel Doris acknowledged the shortage.
“We know it’s not enough. These programs were meant to be a stop-gap until additional aid had come,” he said.
“The federal government is the only one who can actually support us at this time,” Doris said.
De Blasio’s press secretary Freddi Goldstein said, “We will explore every possibility to help New Yorkers, but we can’t reopen prematurely and risk people’s health and safety. When and how we reopen will be led by guidance from health professionals.”