STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Michael Giliotti, co-owner of three Intoxx Fitness studios -- two of which must shutter on Wednesday due to the state-designated orange zone -- fears this could be the demise of all he has built with his partners over the last 20 years.
Our constitutional rights are being trampled on with no regard to our livelihood. The first shutdown there were unknowns, which I respected and understood. Now the data is available and none of it shows that we are high risk, said Giliotti, whose Intoxx Fitness studios -- which he owns with Rosario DiBernardo, Carlo Lasorsa and Bruce Daniele -- are located in Tottenville, and on the border of the yellow zone in Oakwood.
If anything, we are safer than most businesses due to all the guidelines we are enforcing. The government cherry picks certain businesses as dangerous, but cannot explain how they come to it. ... I pray this is for the short-term, but based upon the past I dont see the light at the end of the tunnel, which could end my business. It could result in the closing of my business after over 20 years, he added.
Giliotti and his partners are just some of the hundreds of South Shore business owners located in the states designated orange zone who say its unfair they have to shutter on Wednesday while businesses on the North Shore can stay open.
Due to the rise in coronavirus (COVID-19) infection rates, much of the South Shore and some of the East Shore were deemed an orange zone this week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The rest of the borough will remain in a yellow zone, according to the state.
Whether its a barber shop or nail salon, you can go to the other side of the Island and even across the street in some instances, said Linda Baran, CEO and president of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce. Its very hard on the Island to do this [have different restrictions]. ...If the percentage rate is higher in one community, these regulations are forcing you to go into another community with a lower rate.
J & Y Hair Salon on Page Avenue, Tottenville took customers all day on Tuesday before the salon has to shutter on Wednesday. (Staten Island Advance/Jan Somma-Hammel)
Businesses in the orange zone that are considered high-risk must close, and only outdoor dining is permitted. Mass gatherings, both indoor and outdoor, are capped at 10 people.
Staten Islands orange-zone restrictions begin for businesses on Wednesday, according to the governors office, and Thursday for schools.
Businesses that must shutter are 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.
Orange zones the middle-ground of the states three-tier, micro-cluster system are designated if an area has a seven-day rolling average positivity above 3% for 10 days, and also has 10 or more new daily cases per 100,000 residents on a seven-day average. Additional factors are the total and daily hospital admissions in the area.
The micro-cluster strategy has worked in communities across the state by limiting the types of activities and number of interactions that can increase the spread, like large gatherings and higher-risk businesses, said Jack Sterne, a Cuomo Administration spokesperson. If Staten Islanders take this seriously, wear masks, socially distance, wash their hands, and follow the rules, we can stop the spread.
ON THE BORDER
Business owners especially upset about having to close are those who operate storefronts on the border of the orange zone.
My Great Kills business is on the border, said Bobby Catone of Sunbelievable, a tanning business. While his Tottenville and Great Kills tanning parlors have to close, Catone is thankful he just opened a new Castelton Corners location.
Im lucky I have a third salon so people can still get their services. ...The UV lights help build your immune system, Catone maintained.
Catone made headlines in May when he decided to open his Great Kills tanning salon despite coronavirus mandates still prohibiting him from doing so.
Bobby Catone, center, owner of a Staten Island tanning salon, speaks to a crowd outside his business after being given a summons by police on May 28, 2020 after opening before the state allowed him to officially do so. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) AP
Business owners who were closed for several months this past spring say they are disappointed they have to close again.
I have spent the last two weeks in Florida where their infection rate is two times higher than New York City. They also had more coronavirus cases than New York City, said Frank Russo, owner of Ink Couture in Pleasant Plains.
Yet its business as normal [in Florida]. Restaurants are at full capacity and flourishing, business is booming, and people are living life. I think its time Cuomo makes the call to the great Governor of Florida, Ron Desantis and ask for advice. Make the call Cuomo.
Frank Russo has owned Ink Couture on Amboy Road since 2013. (Courtesy of Frank Russo)
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