STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- If New York Citys coronavirus (COVID-19) positivity rate rises, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that the Big Apple will become an orange zone, which means a host of businesses -- from gyms to nail salons -- will shutter indefinitely.
At a press briefing on Wednesday, the governor called the current rise in coronavirus cases both in the state and around the nation a COVID spiral.
He said that the coming cold weather and holidays, combined with COVID fatigue, are driving spread of the disease, particularly in places that havent yet experienced painful reality.
Orange zone restrictions include:
NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES THAT WOULD CLOSE
According to Cuomos executive order, non-essential businesses -- those that are considered a higher risk associated with the transmission of the COVID-19 virus -- include gyms, fitness centers, barbers, hair salons, spas, tattoo and piercing parlors, nail technicians and nail salons, cosmetologists, estheticians and laser hair removal and electrolysis companies.
What comes after a yellow zone? An orange zone. Yellow is 2.5[%], orange is at 3[%]. New York City could go to an orange zone if it hits 3%, said Cuomo on Wednesday.
Although Cuomo said the citys positivity rate is at 2.5%, de Blasio, who shuttered public schools in New York city this week, says the Big Apple has already reached 3%.
When asked why the city and state have different coronavirus numbers, de Blasio explained on Wednesday that the city counts positive coronavirus cases based on the day the test was taken, not when the testing result arrived.
Three is the next demarcation to become an orange zone. What happens at 3%? Houses of worship, mass gatherings, business restrictions, dining restrictions, schools close, Cuomo said.
And Staten Island business owners who would have to shutter once again arent happy.
New York City-based gyms, which are still not permitted to have indoor classes, were only able to reopen at reduced capacity in September.
If gyms must close, not only will it cripple the fitness industry and small businesses alike, but more so devastating to New Yorkers who rely on fitness for health purposes, said Chris Pacifico, who owns Crunch Fitness in St. George and just opened a 32,000-square-foot Crunch gym in the former New York Sports Club space in Travis that shuttered during the pandemic.
Gyms are part of the solution, not part of the problem. We are essential, he added, citing a New York State Fitness Alliance survey that deemed New York gyms safe.
Pacifico, like many other gym owners, said he has many safety precautions in place, including the MERV-13 air filters recommended by the state.
Carlo Lasorsa, co-owner in Intoxx Fitness, which has three Staten Island locations.
Said Carlo Lasorsa, co-owner of Intoxx Fitness, which has three Staten Island locations: We have no problem closing again if they can show me the data that states gyms are causing the spike. Without proof, this is an emotional response with no grounds to choose gyms as the problem.
And hair and nail salon owners, many of whom spent a lot of money reinventing their salons to conform with coronavirus mandates, said they fear having to close again -- especially around the holidays when services are in high demand. Hair salons were able to reopen in late June during Phase 2, and nail salons reopened in Phase 3 in July.
Various safety measures, from hand sanitizer to plexiglass barriers, are in place at Leelees Nails on Richmond Road. (Courtesy of Leelee Woon)
Business already got hurt from closing before. ...We put a lot of money into reopening. Workers returning to work are asking for higher salaries, said Leelee Woon, owner of Leelees Nails on Richmond Road.
We try our best to follow all protections, especially me. ... The pain from closing the business again will be worse than my chemo treatment. ...We already make no profit. ...I really feel bad a lot of businesses are closing. I hope I can hold on, added Woon, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer amid the pandemic.
Kim Barbagallo, owner of Fringe: The Art of Hair in Castleton Corners, said she has been concerned since Staten Island became a yellow zone.
I just hope we are able to make it through December, because this is our busy season, and considering the year we all had we really need to be open until at least end of December, she said.
I also wish it would be on more of an individual basis, because I am very strict with my rules and have continued to be strict, and have had zero incident. I know some places that have gotten lax, but I dont think its fair to the businesses that have been diligent, added Barbagallo.
Kim Barbagallo, owner of Fringe: The Art of Hair in Castleton Corners, said she has been concerned since Staten Island became a yellow zone. (Courtesy of Kim Barbagallo)
After being closed for so long and tattoos being a luxury experience many people cant afford if they are unemployed, tattoo shop owners say they also fear a second closure. Tattoo shops were allowed to reopen during New York Citys Phase 3.
The thought of closing my business again is terrifying. I worry that it will last even longer than the last shut down, and its hard to say what that will mean for businesses in the future as well as what kind of money will be available for luxury spending for my clients once we could reopen, said Magie Serpica, co-owner of Milk and Honey Tattoo Parlour, West Brighton.
Magie Serpica, co-owner of Milk and Honey Tattoo Parlour, West Brighton, said she fears she will have to close again.
Said Frank Russo, owner of Ink Couture in Pleasant Plains, Since March I have been saying this is the year of no logic.
Tattoo Artist Andrew Russo works on a client at Ink Couture in Pleasant Plains, which reopened in Phase 3. (Courtesy of Frank Russo)
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