Why do gyms, hair salons and barbershops need to close in an Orange Zone? | WHEC.com

Why do gyms, hair salons and barbershops need to close in an Orange Zone?

Jennifer Lewke
Updated: November 23, 2020 06:19 PM
Created: November 23, 2020 06:08 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As part of Monroe County was headed to an Orange Zone, News10NBC started hearing from hairdressers, barbers, nail techs, and gym owners who were concerned about another closure. They’ve been following the rules and regulations put on them by the state and now they’re getting hit again.  

For weeks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been saying that COVID-19 is spreading, primarily because of indoor gatherings, living room spread he calls it. So, why make these small businesses close when an area is placed in an Orange Zone? 

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke asked Cuomo that exact question late last week:

Lewke: "Why are gyms, hair salons, barbershops—who have implemented restrictions under your guidance, forced to close in an orange zone?  What kind of data do you have that shows that they are contributing to the spread?"

Gov. Cuomo: "The sources that have been identified nationwide for the increase by the CDC, by HHS and which every state government acts on: indoor dining, every state when they close down what do they close? They close indoor dining, gyms, personal services, hair salons… The gyms, the hair salons, every national health agency has identified them."

Perhaps the National health agencies but locally, the exact opposite is true.

Lewke: "Through your contact tracing, Dr. Mendoza, do you have any evidence that any of our COVID-19 spread is coming from gyms, hair salons, or barbershops?"

Dr. Michael Mendoza (Monroe County Health Commissioner): "So, gyms, hair salons, and barbershops are not among the types of businesses that we're worried about.  As we look to the most safe places in our community, barbershops, hair salons, gyms, fitness centers and schools really are in the top in terms of the most safe in my view."

Nevertheless, on Monday, personal services in the Orange zone learned that they’ll have to close on Wednesday.

Lewke: "My understanding was the whole point of the microclusters was to drill down into the neighborhoods, if we're not spreading COVID at these locations have you communicated that to the governor and what his response been to you?"

Bob Duffy (Head of the FLX Control Room): "Well, we have consistently communicated from our region to the governor’s team, not directly to the governor himself, but to his team. We have constant communication and I would agree with Dr. Mendoza that those areas are not exactly spreaders, the spreading events right now have been gatherings, some restaurants, bars, parties, family gatherings-- those are things right now that have been most problematic. I believe where the Governor’s coming from is taking a look at those areas that are deemed by the state as not essential and maybe just trying to reduce the likelihood somebody would go to those and add to the spread."

The NYS Department of Labor says if your business is closed in an orange zone, you should be able to claim unemployment. If a claimant's benefit year has not expired, but you stopped claiming benefits (for example, you went back to work), you would simply begin certifying for benefits again to start receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits. If a claimant's benefit year has expired, you’ll need to reapply for benefits. For more information, click here.

Use this tool provided and updated by New York state to see if your home, business, or school is in a COVID-19 microcluster zone.


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