CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The Cranston City Council is set to take up a resolution next week asking the state to allow businesses to operate during their normal hours.
Cranston City Council President Chris Paplauskas hopes that the resolution sends a message to the state that the continued restrictions are killing the city’s businesses.
“This resolution is a small touch to let everybody know that one, we’re listening, and two, we are here to help,” Paplauskas explained. “The small businesses across the state have complied every step of the way, and this ‘pause’ has really turned into something more permanent. The longer this goes on, the more businesses are going to close up.”
In early November, Gov. Gina Raimondo ordered all restaurants and bars to close early as part of a statewide stay-at-home advisory.
At the time, Raimondo argued that state inspectors discovered people were letting their guard down frequently the later they were out in public. Those restrictions remained in effect during the state’s three-week “pause,” and are still in effect now.
Marshall Dambrosio, the owner of Legion Bowl and Pub on Park, tells 12 News he, like many other businesses in the state, has been struggling to stay afloat since March.
“Our income stream has dried up, our taxes and insurance still have to be paid, rent still has to be paid,” Dambrosio said. “On my entertainment nights, I have about 80 people here. I have to send them home at 10 o’clock, and that’s kind of hard to do.”
“They all leave at 10 o’clock,” he continued. “Economically, we should be operating for another couple of hours. It makes no sense, what a 10 o’clock curfew has to do with a virus.”
Cranston City Council Vice President Edward Brady is a business owner himself and shares similar concerns. That’s why he’s in full support of this resolution. That’s why he helped write this resolution.
“So many people in Rhode Island are at a point where they are just exhausted, they are struggling economically and financially,” he said. “These are serious hours, you have to make lay offs, you have to cut people.”
Brady said the resolution is not about downplaying the severity of the pandemic. It’s instead about saving Rhode Islander’s livelihoods.
“We continue to see inconsistent mandates, like at malls, and on Black Friday, to that nature,” Brady said. “We continue to wonder why we, as a restaurant community, just using that as an example, why we continue to invest thousands of dollars to do what has been recommended to us to be safe, just to be closed down.”
Brady feels confident that once Lt. Gov. Dan McKee takes over as governor, which will happen after Gov. Gina Raimondo is confirmed as President-elect Joe Biden’s commerce secretary, the concerns business owners have will be heard.
The Cranston City Council has scheduled a special meeting on Jan. 21 to discuss the resolution.
Dambrosio hopes state officials will be listening.
“I want to applaud the City Council for taking a proactive stance for the business community,” he said. “I think I can speak for every business in Cranston, it’s a proactive stance and it’s long overdue.”
12 News has also confirmed that the Smithfield Town Council will be considering a similar resolution. Paplauskas said he hopes more cities and towns follow suit as well.