Ravi Bhalla, the Mayor of Hoboken, has taken quick action on the prevention of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.
All government officials should be taking the pandemic seriously. And many residents of Hoboken are happy that the Mayor of Hoboken is so out spoken on the severity of the virus.
However some residents of Hoboken (especially small business owners) are starting to believe that the preventative measures have become too extreme.
In fact, back in August, Ravi Bhalla attempted to pass an order that would instate a $250 mandatory fine for any individual found outside in the streets of Hoboken without a mask.
This proposal was largely met with uproar from the city and was eventually shot down by council at a vote of 6-3.
At the time of this facemask proposal, cases were high but with the death rate remaining below 1%, many felt the measure was unnecessary. Even the police department of Hoboken was uncomfortable issuing tickets with such hefty fines.
Hoboken is a small city. It spans across just 2 square miles, and is home to around 50,000 residents.
With more bars and restaurants per capita than any other city in the country, most have come to assume that a majority of the Hoboken economy relies on the food and service industry. Leading them to wonder why Bhalla would continue to enforce such strict measures.
Closing down indoor dining was something that had to be done. Restaurants bought more outdoor equipment and adjusted. Some survived through the summer while others did not.
Temporary Hope Was Restored In Hoboken
Eventually outdoor seating was extended through the winter and indoor dining was allowed at up to 25% capacity.
Bar and restaurant owners who were already in the hole purchased expensive outdoor equipment (heat lamps, igloos, barriers, etc.) to keep outdoor seating alive during the cold months.
“In a press release, Bhalla said, ‘Hoboken is doing everything possible to facilitate socially distant outdoor dining options for residents to enjoy. We are committed to working with our businesses to continue keeping as many people as possible outdoors in a safe and comfortable environment during upcoming weather months.’” – Hoboken Girl
From this wording alone it was clear Ravi Bhalla had no intention of helping small businesses. This measure was put in place to keep the residents of Hoboken happy.
Further lack of regard for the survival of Hoboken bars was confirmed in mid-October when Ravi Bhalla announced that all bars and restaurants were to have a 12am curfew – normally Hoboken bars can remain open until 2am.
Ravi Bhalla had the following to say on his reasoning for the executive order-
“Higher volumes of music combined with alcohol, makes it likely people talk louder and release more respiratory droplets, making transmission much more likely if someone has COVID-19.” – Hudson County View
Cork City of Hoboken sent out the following email to their customers following the executive order-
So Why Is Mayor Ravi Bhalla Showing No Regard For Hoboken Bars?
Contrary to popular belief, Hoboken’s economy does not rely on bar income as much as one would expect.
High income earners living in Hoboken and commuting to NYC and Stevens Institute of Technology make up the bulk of the city’s revenue.
These numbers are miniscule compared to what Hoboken bars contribute to the city economically.
Ravi Bhalla knows if Cork City or Mad Hatter go out of business, another owner will just come in and open a new bar or restaurant.
That has been his sentiment since the beginning of his administration. Back in 2018 Ravi Bhalla first order of business was “cracking down on bars”.
“Thursday night’s ABC hearing was unprecedented in its scope of enforcement,” says Hoboken attorney Frank Marciano. “Hearings usually have 5- 15 people in attendance and the nuances of violations are usually considered. Meetings are usually over in an hour but at this meeting there were at least 100 people in attendance and the law department was fully staffed and prepared to try any case that did not settle. The meeting was going strong at 9pm when I left. It was like the wild west with a new sheriff in Town.” – Hmag
Ravi Bhalla had little sympathy for bars in 2018, so it almost should be expected that he has even less sympathy for them now.
With all that in mind, it’s very clear the bars and restaurants in Hoboken shouldn’t be expecting any further help from Ravi Bhalla or City Hall.
They are in for a very tough winter.