NYC business owner: State inspectors unfairly targeted closed store for alleged coronavirus violations

NYC business owner: State inspectors unfairly targeted closed store for alleged coronavirus violations

New York City business owner Odette Rishty says her Brooklyn gift shop was unfairly targeted by New York State inspectors for alleged COVID-19 violations, telling “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday that she received a summons even though her store was closed to customers.

Odette Rishty, who owns the store “It’s All a Gift” with her husband, also pointed out that residents in her “red zone” Brooklyn neighborhood are going to other zip codes to do business.

Certain schools and businesses in parts of Brooklyn and Queens, areas the state has deemed “red zones,” have been shuttered amid a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in New York City.

Last Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that some of those coronavirus restrictions were being eased in some parts of Brooklyn and Queens after a dramatic drop in cases while other areas will see an increase in “control measures,” the Daily News reported.

“The holiday season is coming up,” Rishty noted, adding that with “forced shutdowns constantly” she is left with many unanswered questions, including, “What do I do when I finally open? Do I fill the store? Do I not?

“We are in business ten years here in a community where everything seems to be shut down,” Rishty said. “Our schools are shut down, our synagogues are shut down.

“Everyone is moving around, however, and, you know, you could just go to another zip code and get your nails done. You could go to another zip code and buy something,” she continued. 

Host Brian Kilmeade noted that city inspectors came to her store and “had no problem,” yet state inspectors did and issued a summons, arguing the store was open and “fully operational.”

Rishty told Kilmeade her store was not open to customers and she doesn’t understand why she received a summons.

She said that state inspectors are “basically claiming that we’re open with our gates down and us inside.”

“We’re a husband and wife team. We’ve been working there for 10 years. We’ve been following ever-changing rules since March,” she continued.

Rishty added that “we understood the need [to close] due to Covid-19 and a lot of deaths in the country and we were very concerned for ourselves and for our family.”

She stressed that “we’ve been following the rules ever since, much to the chagrin of our customers who pull on the doors all day and are greeted with a sign that says please do not.”

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“They can’t get in because there’s a lock on the door, it says, ‘Please just call us and we’ll take care of whatever you need by delivering it or shipping it,’” Rishty explained, adding that is what the state inspectors “saw on the doors” of her store when they showed up.

“And they still considered it that we were open when we were working inside,” she continued.

She said that despite the orders to stay closed, she still has rent to pay and has to pay for materials.

“They [state inspectors] don’t want anyone inside and across the street there is a bodega with people going in and out,” Rishty said. “There’s a candy store with people going in and out. There’s a supermarket a block long with people going in and out.

“We sell essential things,” she added. “And people really need us and so we don’t mind to deliver or to ship and we’ve been doing that, but they’re [state inspectors are] not happy with that.”

Rishty said she is working with her city councilman to appeal the summons from the state.

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A spokesperson with Gov. Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

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