A New York pub has gone to extraordinary lengths to remain afloat after Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed new lockdown restrictions that affect the establishment, declaring itself an “autonomous zone,” giving out free drinks, and asking for donations.
Following a spike in cases of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, Cuomo announced tighter curbs last week, with part of Staten Island, where Mac’s Public House is located, designated a medium-risk orange zone. The new restrictions, which include the closure of many businesses deemed nonessential and limiting restaurants to outdoor dining and takeout, went into effect on Nov. 25.
Mac’s Public House has continued to operate in defiance of the shutdown order, with management posting a sign declaring the establishment an “autonomous zone,” and featuring the message, “We refuse to abide by any rules and regulations put forth by the Mayor of NYC and Governor of NY State.”
“We’re still doing things in a safe way, we’re still open,” Danny Presti, co-owner of Mac’s, said in a Nov. 27 video on YouTube. “The Health Department has given us a close-of-business order, the liquor authority has now revoked our liquor license, so this is what we’re going to do—we’re going to give everything away for free.”
Presti said the pub was initially fined $15,000 by the sheriff’s department, which he said was later voided, adding, “Now, they’re issuing us $1,000 fines and they’re coming back.”
A follow-up video posted on Nov. 29 showed sheriff’s deputies interacting with Presti and co-owner Keith McAlarney in front of the pub, with McAlarney saying in the video: “What ended up taking place tonight … the sheriff’s department came and one state health department agent—he came here to issue us a cease-and-desist order. I refused to end up accepting any paperwork that he wanted to give to me and also refused to have a conversation with him.” He added that he referred the agent to his attorney.
“They were respectful,” McAlarney said of the sheriff’s deputies. “We remained professional and respectful to them. They asked to come inside the premises. They didn’t have a warrant, so they weren’t allowed in.”
Presti, on a GoFundMe page, has called for donations, seeking to raise $500,000 to help the pub through the lockdown, promising to use proceeds above that amount to help other small businesses weather the restrictions. As of the afternoon on Nov. 30, it has raised just over $8,000.
Writing on the donation page that the pub “has been decimated” by the COVID-19 restrictions, Presti said, “None of this is right and our Constitutional rights have been stripped away.
“We’ve all been shuttered and struggling since the first shutdowns,” he said, and vowed to “continue the fight to stay open.”
Around one-third of small businesses in New York remain shuttered compared to January, according to a Harvard-run database that tracks the economic impact of the pandemic.