The state’s announcement that amusement parks and indoor family entertainment centers can open with limited capacity next month comes weeks after several dozen businesses, including Laser Bounce Family Fun Center in Glendale, filed a lawsuit against the state in order to reopen.
Indoor family entertainment centers can open for business at 25 percent capacity starting March 26, and outdoor amusement parks can open at 33 percent capacity starting April 9. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the pending reopenings during a press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 17, citing the steady decline in the virus positivity rate and hospitalizations in New York.
Laser Bounce’s co-owner and general manager Ryan D’Amico told QNS he’s in “better spirits” now that they have a set date for reopening and guidance to look forward to.
But, he added that the lawsuit hasn’t been dropped as of Monday, Feb. 22, as they await to see the full written guidance.
“Unfortunately, we were left with no other option,” D’Amico said. “We did not want to do that.”
The lawsuit, filed by attorney James G. Mermigis in the Onondaga County Supreme Court on Feb. 4, alleges that the state of New York and Cuomo have “arbitrarily” allowed businesses to open following their executive order of a statewide shutdown in March 2020.
The lawsuit’s 45 plaintiffs, including indoor adventure parks, trampoline parks, arcades, laser tag centers and other indoor entertainment venues from across the state, claim the ongoing pandemic restrictions imposed on their businesses has caused “immense harm” as their businesses “crumble.”
They added the restrictions coupled with a lack of guidance from the state are particularly unfair when compared to the reopenings of gyms, casinos, bowling alleys and other indoor businesses in months prior.
The suit also alleges that the ongoing shutdown “has not been based on data or analysis” of the businesses’ ability to employ COVID-19 protocols endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In response to the lawsuit, a Cuomo administration spokesman said some higher-risk industries didn’t fit neatly into the state’s phased reopening and that they were monitoring how and when they can safely reopen, in a statement to Newsday.
While D’Amico doesn’t think the lawsuit was in direct correlation to the state’s reopening announcement, he says many factors may have contributed to it, such as their group’s lobbying firm and other state’s reopening efforts.
Five months ago, D’Amico spoke about the financial hardships the family-run business has endured while being forced to remain closed, including laying off more than 100 of their employees and losing more than $1 million in revenue.
D’Amico showcased the safety measures they implemented at their location in the Shops at Atlas Park (they have another on Long Island that’s also been shuttered) in response to the pandemic. Their measures include a thermal imaging scanning system for contactless temperature checks, Merv-13 air filters, plexiglass to separate counter workers from guests, six-feet distance markers, masks requirements for guests and staff, additional hand sanitizing stations and increased disinfection of high-touch areas, among other plans.
The new state guidelines for attraction venues to reopen outlines similar safety requirements, and adds that facilities must submit their reopening plans with health protocols to the local health department.
D’Amico said he’s glad they finally received guidance, but that he isn’t “thrilled” about the 25 percent capacity cap.
“It’s going to be difficult to pay the bills with that,” he said. “Profits are non-existent at 25 percent.”
D’Amico, who previously received a PPP loan and a Small Business Administration loan, said he hopes federal and local elected officials will include the attractions industry in grants moving forward.
He was disappointed that they were left out of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, a $15 billion federal grant program geared toward aiding live venues, theaters and other cultural businesses that have also been shuttered throughout the pandemic.
“We’ve been completely left out of that grant, but we’ve been in the same predicament,” he said.
In the meantime, Laser Bounce Family Fun Center will celebrate the restrictions being lifted by hosting a grand reopening in March. Tickets will be available at the beginning of the month.
“The biggest hurdle we have is showing our customers we’re safer and cleaner than ever,” D’Amico said. “Just from social media alone, the support has been amazing.”