The owners of Pasticceria Rocco in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn have a big message for fellow New Yorkers displayed in the storefront window of their bakery.
“We do not discriminate against ANY customer based on sex, gender, race, creed, age[,] vaccinated or unvaccinated,” the sign reads. “All customers who wish to patronize are welcome in our establishment.”
This act of civil disobedience came days after di Blasio unveiled his “Key to NYC” program — which kicked off on Aug. 17 in all of New York City’s five boroughs. The program requires residents to show proof of vaccination before entering most public places, including restaurants, theaters, gyms, museums, and other entertainment venues.
“There are so many amazing things in this city that you can participate in if you’re vaccinated,” the mayor said.
But Rocco Generoso, owner of Rocco’s, refuses to comply with this directive.
“I’m doing this for all Americans, everyone in this world,” he said in a video posted to social media. “You gotta stand up for what’s right, and what de Blasio’s doing is 100 percent out of line and it’s a straight grab at our freedom.”
He continued: “So I’m not discriminating, I’m not segregating anyone based on the new class of person that he made, which is the vaccinated and unvaccinated. Anyone that wants to patronize my store, you’re more than welcome.”
Generoso’s wife, Mary Josephine, told the New York Post that their opposition to the mandate isn’t political: “Most of my customers are vaccinated,” she said.
“It’s about civil liberties and freedoms. Now we have to be in a society where people can’t roam freely and enter my place of business if they want to? How is that OK in the United States of America?”
Mary Josephine, the manager of Rocco’s, said the mayor’s “Key to NYC” program was “so un-American. I could not understand how we were going to start discriminating against people who weren’t vaccinated.”
Though the Generosos have taken a strong stand against the mayor’s directive, they still fear reprisal.
“It’s scary. I feel like we will be made an example of,” Mary Josephine said. “It is really hard to go up against a machine, and that’s what we are up against. Honestly, I put the sign up because I was hoping that other business owners would also have the courage to speak out. But it is mainly our customers who have reached out in support.”
The city’s enforcement of the vaccine mandate goes into effect on Sept. 13. Between now and then, 570 canvassers will be sent out to all businesses in the city “to help them understand the plan,” according to Crain’s New York Business.
Business owners who violate the new program will initially face a $1,000 fine. The fine amounts increase to $2,000 for a second violation and $5,000 for a third.
A group of NYC restaurateurs and business owners filed a lawsuit challenging the vaccine passport program earlier this week.
“The suit says that the mandate is ‘arbitrary and capricious’ for a slew of reasons including that the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant can spread among both vaccinated and unvaccinated people,” the Post reported the court documents claim.