New York SHUTTERED
See you on the other side.
Those were the words that Matthew Viragh was trying to spell on the marquee at the Nitehawk Prospect Park movie theater in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon. It was a simple message, but it was taking longer than usual because every couple of minutes one of the theater’s employees stopped him to say, goodbye — for now.
A few days earlier, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had announced restrictions on large public gatherings. And then on Monday, New York, along with New Jersey and Connecticut, ordered movie theaters and most other “nonessential” business to close down at 8 p.m., sending yet another coronavirus-related ripple through the local economy.
There is no road map for the new reality that we are living in, so people like Mr. Viragh, who founded Nitehawk, have had to make some quick decisions without much information. He set aside food from the theater’s restaurant for workers who would be going home without a clear idea of when their next paycheck would come.
“I am trying my best to take care of my employees,” said Mr. Viragh, who employs around 150 people. “We are all in this together.”
The tight-knit group of employees lingered outside the theater and strategized how they would get through the social distancing and economic uncertainty that had been forced on them.
“We are fully conscious of more harsh realities,” Mr. Viragh said “It’s really difficult to say goodbye to people you have worked with for 10-plus years and not hug each other.”
The workers started their farewells with elbow bumps. Some just waved. And then, in a moment of weakness, old habits took over and hugs were shared. These were colleagues who didn’t know when they would see one another again, after all. Emotions were raw.
No one knew what the other side would look like.