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Central Queens City Council candidate calls for improved COVID-19 aid to small businesses

Photo by Dean Moses

David Aronov, a City Council candidate vying to be the first Bukharian Jewish person elected to the legislative body, demanded the city and state step up and help small business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic at Queens Borough Hall on Nov. 24.

Aronov, who is running to replace term-limited Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz in City Council District 29, called on Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo to institute a series of polices aimed at aiding small businesses including rent relief programs, clearer protocol for indoor and outdoor dining, reduce fines, increase small business eduction and streamlined communication between the state, city and businesses.

“Our small businesses have been hurt, and we have to ensure they get the support they need to continue to be open and succeed,” Aronov said. “As the backbone of our city’s economy, the lack of investment into our small businesses now will cost us in the long run.”

The City Council candidate citied the city’s color-coded COVID-19 zones as a cause of confusion for the city’s small businesses. Aronov has also taken umbrage with the fines doled out by the State Liquor Authority to businesses found in violation of COVI-19 guidelines, which he said are “over the top.”

Aronov was joined by a handful of small business owners from Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill – the neighborhoods he hopes to represent – on Tuesday.

“Small businesses can barely make it on 100 percent capacity with labor, food cost, rent and utilities,” said Spiro Gatanas, the owner of DineBar and Tower Diner in Rego Park. “Can you imagine how we are all doing with 25 percent capacity for dining? It’s a recipe for disaster.”

On Nov. 21, City Council District 29 had around a 3.75 percent positive COVID-19 test rate on average over the past seven days, about 0.8 percent higher than the city average.

Business owners cited financial support as the only way to survive during the pandemic.

“As a new small business that is not receiving grants or loans or new small business assistance it is extremely difficult to create a financially sustainable business,” said Mohammed Islam, the owner of Grocery Shoppe in Richmond Hill.

Aranov faces a crowded field of candidates in his bid for office – 11 others have announced their campaigns for Koslowitz’s seat.

Additional reporting by Dean Moses.

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