4 New York strip clubs sued Andrew Cuomo for keeping them closed during the pandemic while allowing restaurants, bars, and axe-throwing venues to reopen

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4 New York strip clubs sued Andrew Cuomo for keeping them closed during the pandemic while allowing restaurants, bars, and axe-throwing venues to reopen
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been sued by four NYC strip clubs.Seth Wenig-Pool/Getty Images, stock photo/Getty Images
  • Four NYC strip clubs are suing the state and Gov. Cuomo for making them close during the pandemic.
  • The lawsuit says this has put thousands of workers out of jobs and put businesses in jeopardy.
  • The lawsuit adds that "comparable" venues such as restaurants and bars have been allowed to reopen.

A group of strip clubs in New York City sued the state for ordering them to stay closed during the pandemic while other venues, such as bars, were allowed to reopen.

This violates the First and 14th Amendments, they said in the lawsuit.

Four clubs in the borough of Queens filed a joint suit against Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state's liquor licensing authority on Thursday in Manhattan Federal Court, AP first reported.

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NYC Gentlemen's Club, Starlet's, Sugar Daddy's Gentlemen's Club, and Gallagher's 2000 - which describe themselves as "exotic dancing venues" - said in the lawsuit they had been forced to stay closed since March 16, 2020 because of "arbitrary and unconstitutional decisions" made by Cuomo and the licensing authority.

The lawsuit said New York State's forced closure of strip clubs has put thousands of workers out of jobs, and threatened the long-term economic viability of the four clubs named in the suit.

The lawsuit said that the clubs had been ready to open with safety measures in place - including mask mandates, daily temperature checks, air purifiers, and a modified venue layout to allow social distancing - "since the early days of the pandemic."

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The lawsuit said that in at least 41 other states, authorities allowed businesses similar to the clubs to reopen, and it cited December data from state authorities that attributed just 0.08% of the state's COVID-19 cases to arts and entertainment venues.

Night clubs allowed to reopen in New York

The lawsuit also lists "comparable" businesses that have been allowed to reopen in New York State, including bars with loud music and "axe-throwing" venues. Movie theaters, casinos, and restaurants have also been allowed to reopen, provided they follow Department of Health guidance, and Cuomo has said that night clubs can reopen from April 2.

"Night clubs, lounges, restaurants and bars with live music, and wedding guests engage in similar activities to exotic dancing venues," the lawsuit said. Guests often visit these venues in a group, spend extended periods of time seated together indoors, and eat and drink together, the suit said.

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"Yet these venues are permitted to operate under safety protocols that are similar to what plaintiffs have proposed," the lawsuit said.

It claimed that these venues posed "similar or greater risks of COVID-19 transmission."

During the pandemic, some strip clubs have innovated to keep dancers employed and business rolling. The Lucky Devil Lounge in Portland, Oregon, converted its food-takeout service into a drive-thru strip club so customers could enjoy a burlesque show while grabbing their food from the safety of their car, Insider's Canela López reported.

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Miami-based stripper Sarah Kamilla said she expected strip clubs to change when they re-open. She said they'll likely be more intense sanitization procedures, fewer services available to clients, and less money available for strippers to make.

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