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Business owner calls on the Mayor to open New Orleans’ economy

Updated: Sep. 18, 2020 at 4:53 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A well-known New Orleans business owner calls on Mayor Latoya Cantrell to completely open up the city’s economy now. He says with lower Covid-19 case numbers and hospitalizations, there is no reason for the shut down to continue.

David Rubenstein owns the 95-year old fixture, “Rubenstein’s” on Canal street. He worries about what he calls an economic death of New Orleans.

“It’s getting on an edge because there is no knowing where it’s going to be and it’s dangerous for our city especially for New Orleans, that needs tourists,” Rubenstein said.

He realizes it will be a long time before the city returns to what we know as normal. But, he’s calling on Cantrell to open the economy back up before it’s too late.

“There are many people who are unemployed, who are starving, who are losing their homes and they’re willing to take a chance,” Rubenstein said.

He says his clothing store business is down over 50% because they heavily rely on tourism. And, he’s certainly not alone. Restaurants and bars in the city are facing unprecedented challenges.

“The reality is that a restaurant even when it’s operating at a 100 percent capacity is really only making single-digit margins, so, it’s a real challenge right now. So, we have to do two things, one, we have to continue making steady progress toward reopening, that again has to do with keeping our numbers down and hopefully getting to phase 3 in all the parishes soon. But, it also means in that in DC we have to get another relief package out which would be more PPP money to businesses and individuals because the reality is we’re not through this yet and businesses and individuals are going to need more help,” said Michael Hecht with GNO Inc.

Rubenstein also worries both tourists and locals will take their business to surrounding parishes where restrictions are not as tight.

“I think it becomes a point that people have to move on, they’ll move to Jefferson Parish to open their restaurants and bars and they’ll take Mardi Gras parades and bring it there,” Rubenstein said.

We reached out to the Mayor’s Office today about Rubenstein’s concerns and requested an on-camera interview with the Mayor. We were given this statement instead from a City Hall spokesperson:

“The top priority is getting all of our students back to school and resuming in-person instruction. The City leadership team needs two weeks of data after in-person learning resumes to assess the impact on a full range of COVID metrics, including case numbers, fatalities, and hospitalizations. That impact will be assessed by the end of next week and if positive trends hold, we will move forward with additional easements to restrictions.”

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