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Judge says pool halls that sued state can reopen immediately

Pool halls were not included in the reopening

Pool halls were not included in the reopening plan this past summer and fall for some other indoor entertainment venues. Above, a pool table at 40 Knots bar in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, in 2019. Credit: Linda Rosier

A group of 16 pool halls, most of which are in Manhattan, that sued the state for being forced to close in March, can reopen immediately, according to a preliminary injunction State Supreme Court Justice Gerald Neri granted Friday.

Pool halls have been closed for 10 months following the state's order for nonessential businesses to shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The establishments were not included in the reopening plan that rolled out from summer through fall, although other indoor entertainment venues such as casinos and bowling alleys were allowed to open.

Friday’s ruling permits only the pool halls in the lawsuit, represented by Syosset-based attorney James Mermigis, to reopen under Phase 4 guidelines for indoor arts and entertainment venues.

The pool halls will need to limit workforce and visitors to no more than 50% of maximum capacity, according to court documents.

Amsterdam Billiards in New York City and Brick House Billiards in North Syracuse were among the pool halls in the lawsuit. There were no Long Island pool halls in the suit.

A final hearing has not been scheduled, Mermigis said in a phone call Saturday.

"The owners are elated. They’ve been shut down for almost a year, accruing rent, utility and insurance bills every month, unable to open to visitors while casinos and other establishments were open," Mermigis said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the maximum-capacity limit for the pool halls in the lawsuit to reopen.

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