Business closure reporting act advocates for transparency

By Bee Group Newspapers | on August 13, 2020

FRANK TODARO
Erie County Legislator

Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging and frustrating time for small business owners throughout the community, including bars, restaurants, and breweries. Many of these establishments are working hard to keep up with the constantly changing rules and regulations coming from New York state. With new guidelines and owners experiencing more frequent inspections from health department sanitarians, they face a potential shutdown if they aren’t following the rules. While the rules should be followed, small businesses also need greater protections and more support from their elected officials. This is why I am proud to be cosponsoring the Business Closure Reporting Act.

Last week, my colleagues and I in the Minority Caucus of the Erie County Legislature held a press conference to announce our proposed local law. The Business Closure Reporting Act would require any county department, employee, or elected official to provide more in-depth justification if they order a business closure anywhere in Erie County. Specifically, we ask that a detailed report of justification is submitted to the Legislature and affected business within 48 hours of the decision to close an establishment. Closing a business is in no way a decision that should be taken lightly. Our law seeks to add a layer of protection against a potential wrongful shutdown, and advocates for greater accountability and transparency at a time when it is badly needed. As long as bars and restaurants are doing all that is necessary to keep their employees and customers safe, they should not have to fear being closed on a whim. Businesses are suffering enough right now and we would hate to see any more of them forced to close their doors.

I hope to have the support of my colleagues across the aisle, and would like to hold a public hearing on our proposed Business Closure Reporting Act in the near future to gather input from business owners and residents throughout the community.

I also recently sent a letter to bar and restaurant owners throughout the 8th legislative district asking for input on the challenges many of them may be experiencing right now. As your county legislator, I am happy to advocate for you and assist you in any way possible. If you wish to share your comments or concerns regarding any of these issues or another county-related issue, please do not hesitate to contact my office at Frank.Todaro@erie.gov or by phone at 681-2071. We look forward to hearing from you.

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