Curran 'strongly disagrees' with NYC schools closure, announces help for restaurants

MINEOLA, Long Island (WABC) -- Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said on Wednesday she "strongly disagrees" with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's decision to shut city schools and that she will do everything she can to keep schools on Long Island open.

"Closing schools should be the absolute last resort," she said. "Closing schools causes further economics devastation, and disproportionally harms families in lower-income communities."

Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein said schools are not causing the increase in cases.

"What we have found is that the school itself is not the transmitting factor of disease," he said.

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Curran said the rising number of cases is due to people holding private gatherings.

Nassau BOCES Superintendent Robert Dillon is urging parents to be more mindful of their children's activities outside of school.

"I think our parents have to provide more oversight," he said. "We can't have parties. We can't be hosting these social things."

Schools on Long Island would be forced to close if the infection rate over a seven-day period rises above 9%. Up to that point, officials with individual school districts decide whether schools open or close.

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Curran also announced on Wednesday a new grant program for struggling restaurants.

Using $2.2 million in federal funds, the Restaurant Recovery Grant Program will offer 300 restaurants $5,000 or $10,000 depending upon their number of employees.

"We want to do everything we can to be helpful, even if it's just a little bit," Curran said.

Restaurants owners said they appreciate the help, but it's just a drop in the bucket.

Dave Boller, the owner of Garden Social in East Meadow, said his payroll costs alone are $20,000 each week.

He said the new 10 p.m. curfew for restaurants has been devastating.

"We have lost approximately 25% of our revenue because of the 10 p.m. curfew," he said.

Frank Borrelli, the owner of Borrelli's Restaurant, said the day after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the 10 p.m. closing requirement, his business went down 50%.

"We want to thank Nassau County for the grant offer," he said. "We do appreciate it. But unfortunately, a lot more has to be done."

The Nassau County Legislature is expected to approve the grant program at a meeting on Monday. The application portal will open November 30. CLICK HERE for more information.

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