Coronavirus News: Is the mayor turning his back on Chinatown businesses?

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Saturday, August 15, 2020
Frustration grows for Chinatown businesses neglected during pandemic
Chinatown business owners expressed their frustration Friday, believing they are being left behind during the pandemic.

CHINATOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Chinatown business owners are expressing their frustration Friday, believing they are being left behind during the pandemic.

"I got you bro. I got you. I hear you. I hear you," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio visited one of the city's hardest hit COVID communities.

His Chinatown listening tour on Tuesday started on the right foot, but it didn't end so well.

"We need help. We need confident. Our merchants need more confidence. - Thank you."

Many in Chinatown say the mayor is turning his back on them.

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"I'm not here to do PR with you. I'm here to help my community right now," Chinatown Bakery manager Patrick Mock said.

Mock is a Chinatown worker who never got the chance to share his ideas with the mayor.

The pandemic slashed his business by more than half.

But for months, every day during the shutdown, his bakery fed hundreds of needy and first responders.

"It's just hope. That's what I'm asking for. I'm not asking for much," Mock said.

What he wanted to ask for was for his block on Mott Street to allow outdoor dining along one side, with the other side open for traffic.

Instead on Friday, the city announced it would shut down traffic on the adjacent block on Bayard Street.

In a tweet, the mayor said the city is doing everything they can to help this community get back on its feet.

But the problem is, this is not the block merchants in this community want closed to traffic.

It had been closed since January after a devastating fire and it just reopened to traffic last week.

"We've been fighting for over a half a year to open this street back up," florist Susan Chan said.

Chan owns the flower shop across from what used to be the cornerstone of this community.

A city-owned building that housed community and senior centers, and museum archives among other things.

She says what the mayor gave them Friday, no one asked for.

"They want the street open, they want the street open," Chan said. "We'd love it if they left it like this because this makes sense."

Meanwhile, back on Mott Street.

"Every other day you have either DOT or the SLA coming in and saying they want different things," State Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou said. "So this restaurant has had to move their stand and their outdoor seating back and forth over five times now!"

Which is why Mock is asking for a uniform rule.

"The city itself can't even agree. So we need to have somebody, hopefully the mayor, actually tell us what to actually be doing in a circumstance like this," Niou said.

Multiple requests for comment from DOT went unanswered.


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