Lawsuit aimed at Governor Cuomo for tight COVID-19 restrictions on live performances at music venue

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Like many musicians, Buffalo Music Hall of Fame guitarist Michael Hund has had most of his live performances cancelled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The impact of the cancellations has been hard. 

“How am I going to pay my electric bill? How am I going to pay my car insurance? How am I going to pay insurance for the family? Rent, mortgages? Everything. it’s scary now,” he said.

Hund is filing a lawsuit against Governor Andrew Cuomo this week. He’s demanding the governor roll back the state’s restrictions on live music at venues and compensate for financial loss.

According to the state liquor authority, venues are not allowed to have ticketed or advertised shows. They are allowed to have incidental music. The music should be “incidental to dining — and not the draw itself.”

“It is imminently important now to have this reversed because musicians make most of their money during the summer festival music season,” said Peter J. Speroni Hund’s lawyer.

The NYS Liquor Authority says the regulation concerning ticketed, live entertainment or advertised events is not new. It has been in place since the New York Pause order was put in place back in March.

In an email the SLA said, they recent saw an increase of businesses advertising ticketed events, and they emailed all bars and restaurants to ensure they were aware of the months-old restrictions.

SLA statement: “While we do not comment on pending litigation, we will vigorously defend New York’s data-driven reopening guidelines, which — along with New Yorkers’ sacrifices over the last five months — have helped the state reach and maintain one of the lowest infection rates in the country. 

To support bars and restaurants, we’ve relaxed the rules to let establishments serve alcohol via take-out and delivery, cut red tape so they can immediately expand outdoor dining, and have worked with the private sector to launch a $100 million small business fund, even as New York State contends with a $62 billion drop in revenue over the next four years due entirely to the pandemic.

With cases continuing to soar in other states, New Yorkers must remember we are still fighting a global pandemic and that limiting mass gatherings is one of the best tools in our arsenal to stop the spread and protect our progress. New York State continues to look at the data and science — here and across the nation — and will update our guidelines accordingly.”

Hund isn’t the only local musician taking action against the regulations. Stacey Givan is the lead singer with a tribute band called The Fleetwood Mac Experience.  She started an online petition 

“The last few months have been really difficult since many of the shows have been cancelled since March. We were supposed to start our out of state shows back in March and they were all cancelled this year,” said Givan.

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