One of the owners of a bar in Staten Island, New York who declared their pub an “autonomous zone” in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions was arrested, and his bar shut down, after permitting patrons to eat indoors this week.
Mac’s Public House co-owner Danny Presti was taken away in handcuffs Tuesday night after reopening his restaurant.
On Wednesday night, over 1,000 protesters gathered outside the restaurant in order to support Presti and his pub’s right to reopen.
On November 22, Mac’s Public House posted to Instagram that they would be reopening. However, the business said that it would still require rigorous public health measure to be taken by patrons.
“We will continue to stay open,” the restaurant said. “We will still wear masks, take the same safety precautions we’ve had in place, maintain daily cleanings and work in a responsible manner.”
“What we will not be doing is living in fear… Every day small businesses are living in fear, not just of this virus, but that our governments will take our livelihoods away, even as we’re being safe… At a time when our local government should have assisted and helped us, they have done exactly the opposite,” the restaurant’s post added.
The “autonomous zone” language that Presti uses harkens back to the city of Seattle’s Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), a six-block part of the city where law enforcement were prohibited from entering. The city allowed the zone to remain for over one month before police finally shut it down following two murders.
Appearing on Tucker Carlson Wednesday night, Presti’s lawyer Lou Gelormino said, “15 sheriffs came in yesterday… After giving out over $50,000 in fines, and fining me and giving me four summonses for just representing my client… [they] wind up arresting Danny, putting him in handcuffs, and charging him with disorderly conduct… when he was in his own building.”
Speaking to the ongoing peaceful protests occurring outside Mac’s Public House, Gelormino said, “We have about 25 sheriff’s deputies out in front of the place… but we have 1,500 Staten Islanders in a peaceful protest, protesting and supporting local business owners and Danny and Keith.”
“A block and a half away from Mac’s Tavern, literally a block and a half, you can go sit down, have a burger and a beer, but at Mac’s Tavern you can’t do it,” Gelormino added.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has designated half of Staten Island a “yellow zone” and half of it an “orange zone.” Mac’s Public House is in the orange zone, which is subject to far tighter COVID-19 restrictions.
This kind of zoning is called the “Cluster Action Initiative” by the state of New York. Under the Orange restriction, indoor dining is completely prohibited while under the Yellow restriction, “indoor and outdoor dining [is] permitted.”
Concluding his interview with Tucker Carlson, Gelormino noted that zero coronavirus cases have been traced back to Mac’s Public House. “And I think there’s zero a block and a half away where you can eat [indoors],” he added.
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Screenshot from NBCNewYork