NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, is announcing new legislation in response to mounting concerns about the safety of urban slaughterhouses amid the coronavirus pandemic and reports that early cases of the virus were connected to a wet market in Wuhan, China.
Her legislation also follows a recent report by 7 On Your Side Investigates about repeated violations at several of the roughly 80 live animal markets in New York City and protests by animal rights groups.
A state law already bans new live animal markets from opening within 1,500 feet of a residence for health and safety reasons, but preexisting markets have been allowed to remain in operation.
The bill calls for the immediate closure of those state-licensed live animal markets and for the establishment of a task force to evaluate the markets' future.
Rosenthal said the task force would be composed of experts in public health, agriculture, and animal welfare and also include appointed state representatives.
The task force would evaluate whether to reopen the markets under stricter regulation and increased enforcement or leave them closed altogether.
"It's too great a danger to have these markets that have been shown through inspection records and hidden camera investigations to be filthy. It's not safe. It's not safe," Rosenthal said. "And in this COVID-19 period, we know diseases jump from animals to humans, especially when species are mixed and that is the state at a lot of these markets."
The legislation would not impact larger USDA licensed facilities in the state that often supply meat and poultry to grocery stores and other large buyers, and according to Rosenthal, are held to stricter standards.
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