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Restrictions hurting RVC businesses

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As Covid-19 rates rise again in New York and across the country, Long Island’s restaurants, bowling centers and gyms are dealing with a new restriction put in place by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Nov. 12.

Cuomo an-nounced that those businesses, as well as bars with state liquor licenses, must close every night by 10 p.m. They were identified as potential spreaders of the virus.

Nassau County reported 59,700 positive cases on Monday, with 238 hospitalizations, including 39 patients in intensive care units and 25 who were intubated — the highest numbers since late May.

Some businesses in Rockville Centre, such as Maple Lanes, will be noticeably affected by the curfew, which also includes a 5 a.m. opening restriction that mostly impacts gyms. The Maple Avenue bowling center is now open from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily, a reduction of two hours a day, said co-owner Theresa McCarthy, the center’s community outreach director.

“It’s very detrimental,” McCarthy said. “We have several leagues that began at 9 p.m., and [we] had to move them to other time slots. Doing that not only affected open bowling, but some league bowlers were forced to quit because they couldn’t fit the change into their schedule.”

McCarthy said that Maple Lanes was one of a handful of bowling centers that lobbied Governor Cuomo to allow customers to bowl — but not purchase food or beverages — until midnight. They were denied.

“We’re already operating at only 50 percent capacity, so it’s a big hit,” she added. “We were finally in a position to hire people back, but now we’ve had to cut employee hours.”

Restaurants that rely on late-night customers stand to be hit even harder. Chris Evans, owner of Press 195, on North Park Avenue, said that business declined by 8 percent over the first 10 days of the new restrictions. All told, Press 195 is now open 13 fewer hours per week, including four hours on each of its two busiest nights, Fridays and Saturdays.

“We understand the restrictions, and we want to play our part in keeping the virus numbers down,” Evans said. “We don’t want to be forced to limit business to takeout and delivery only again. Those were tough days.”

Dirty Taco and Tequila, on Sunrise Highway, is now open for lunch four days a week, Thursdays through Sundays starting at noon, to make up for a 15 percent loss in revenue due to the 10 p.m. restriction and the elimination of alcohol-to-go service. “We’re known as a late-night restaurant,” owner Tom Cataldo Jr. said, “and pre-Covid we’d stay open until 1 a.m.”

Police Commissioner James Vafeades said that the RVCPD would enforce any of Cuomo’s executive orders as necessary, but has not had to take any action related to large-scale gatherings.