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Catering Hall Owners Plead For Gov. Cuomo To Allow Weddings To Resume; Venues On 'Brink Of Bankruptcy'

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - Catering hall owners on Long Island gathered Friday to plead with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow them to resume hosting large events, like weddings.

CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported they believe they can do it safely, and that they're on the brink of ruin.

The wedding industry says it's been forgotten. They're fighting for their financial lives.

While restaurants outside New York City are open at 50% capacity, catering halls can only host 50 people.

"I think it's not fair and I think it doesn't make sense," said Lori Lombardi, an owner. "Our occupancy is 1,000 and we can socially distance."

"It's bringing a lot of caterers to the brink of bankruptcy," Fox Hollow Inn's owner Gennaro Tallarico said.

Events at the Fox Hollow Inn in Woodbury are restricted to only 50 guests.

"By shutting us down, these events are not stopping. These events are going into people's homes. They're going into venues that don't have liquor licenses, that are not professionally maintained, not professionally cleaned," Tallarico said.


The rules are arbitrary, say the owners, employees and brides waiting to say, "I do."

"It affects the photographers. It affects the limo services, it affects the florists, and then it affects the brides," said bride-to-be Katelyn Sanasta.

"An industry of happiness and memories has been crushed. There needs to be light at the end of the tunnel," said Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio.

The governor's office argues weddings are inherently riskier than restaurant dining - people know one another, mingle, and come and go at the same time.

"With spikes in other states, clusters in New York, and the risk of a second wave on the horizon, we must continue to be vigilant. As we have seen in weddings across the country... large events dramatically increase the risk of COVID and can easily become superspreader events," said Jack Sterne, an administration spokesperson.

The industry is asking for 50% capacity with social distancing, temperature checks and contact tracing.

"I'm not asking for a packed dance floor. I'm asking for that moment when a father gets to dance with his little girl," said Heather Cunningham from Brides of Long Island.

Industry leaders have been meeting with the governor's office, they say, asking for fair new guidelines. They say 50% capacity will not be profitable, but it may keep many venues in business.

Gov. Cuomo's office also pointed to several weddings, including one in upstate New York, that led to multiple deaths.

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