Several adult entertainment establishments in New York City sued New York State on Thursday over these venues’ shutdown amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The strip clubs, which include "Starlet's", "Sugar Daddy's" and "Gallagher's 2000", protest the fact that they remain closed while other enclosed establishments open up, asking the court to declare it a violation of the First and 14th Amendments.
The lawsuit was filed in a Manhattan federal court, with the defendants including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state's liquor licensing authority.
This development comes as many bars and restaurants open this week amid the state widening the rules for them, AP notes, adding that "similar clashes between establishments that allow nudity or dancing" had occurred previously in other states.
The lawsuit insists that, while the strip clubs have been ready to open in compliance with the COVID-19 safety protocols practically from the early days of the current pandemic, Governor Cuomo and the state have ordered restaurants and bars "with exotic dancing to remain closed while permitting night clubs, lounges, jazz dinner theatres, churches, axe throwing venues, billiards halls, event venues for weddings, casinos, restaurants and bars with live music and bowling alleys that pose similar or greater risks of COVID-19 transmission to reopen".
In response, a spokesperson for the NY governor’s office, however, argued that the lawsuit in question attempts to undermine "science-based public health measures".
"While we are working to reopen as many facets of the economy as quickly and safely as possible, science, data, and common sense dictate that exotic dancing is not allowable at this time", spokesperson Jack Sterne said in a statement.