The world famous billboards and neon signs of Times Square were temporarily blacked-out as a protest to highlight the plight of restaurants and the hospitality industry.
The blackout was staged in a joint effort by the Business Interruption Group, Times Square Alliance and the NYC Hospitality Alliance, and it encompassed 46th Street to 48th Street on Broadway, and the entire corner of 47th and 7th Avenue, surrounding Duffy Square.
It was a call for more help for restaurants from government, and crucially to force it to take a harder line against insurance companies, who are refusing to pay business interruption costs, claiming force majeure, or that the pandemic was unforeseen and therefore impossible to include as cover in their risk assessment.
Chef Eric Ripert of New York’s Le Bernardin was joined in a video message by fellow New Yorkers Whoopi Goldberg, Rabbi Marvin Hier of the the global Jewish Human Rights Group Simon Wiesenthal Center, Broadway actress and singer Liz Dutton and local business leaders calling for action.
“In both the media and our public consciousness, an empty Times Square has become emblematic for how swiftly and severely the social, cultural, and commercial activity of not only our city, but also the main streets across this country have ground to a halt amidst this global pandemic,” Times Square Alliance president Tim Tompkins said in a statement.
“Similarly, the images Times Square sends around the world send signals of what could come next — for better or for worse. It is no secret that this pandemic has created unprecedented vulnerabilities for restaurants, retailers and small business entrepreneurs, deepening existing inequities not only in New York but across the country. The black-out action is both a caution and a call to action to ensure that steps are taken to ensure that the lights don’t go dark for millions.”
A white paper released last week by the American Property Casualty Insurance Association said the losses from such global disasters exceed insurance companies’ ability to pay.
It added that such business interruption coverage would always “require widespread government protection, which could, in turn, encourage increased innovation of specialized products by private insurers and reinsurers.”