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Businesses worry what an orange zone could mean for them

Much of Erie Co. is currently in the yellow zone
Posted at 6:24 PM, Nov 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-10 18:24:43-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Many parts of Erie County entered the yellow zone on Monday. County Executive Mark Poloncarz said if cases continue to rise he expects the county to be moved into the orange zone.

Under state guidelines, "high-risk non-essential businesses," like gyms and salons, would close.

Jennifer Swift owns Jennifer Julia Salon in Buffalo, and said she was grateful that the county received a yellow, not orange zone, designation. She said the business lost more than $200,000 in revenue when it closed during the initial lockdown.

“We’ve been actually prepping since June, when we reopened, for another closure because it was such a significant hit to us,” Swift said.

She said a second closure would be different because there's time to prepare. Upon a reopening the salon would implement practices it did for its first reopening like scheduling overtime for employees to help make up lost wages.

"I feel like we are prepared," Swift said. "Even to the extent of if we do shutdown for two weeks my plan is to turn off the electric and to put our heat as low as possible."

Gyms are one of the more recent businesses to reopen. After being closed for five months Jessica Lasagna, the owner-operator of F45 Black Rock said she breathed a sigh of relief when she learned parts of the county were designated yellow, not orange, and the gym wouldn't have to close.

“We’ve completely written off 2020, we don’t expect to see a penny from this at the end of it,” Lasagna said.

Lasagna said membership is about 50% of what it was pre-pandemic, but that the current members are very active when it comes to attending classes. She said a shutdown would mean a return to online classes.

“As a business owner operating a gym my job is to, you know, make sure everybody stays healthy so, and that means mentally as well," Lasagna said. "I mean I just feel like that just takes a huge toll on me, if I consume myself too much with the numbers. We’re just doing as much as we can personally to make sure that we don’t get shutdown,"

Poloncarz said cases have more than tripled in two weeks.

Swift watches the numbers everyday, and said she's already seen them impact the salon. Many customers rescheduled last week due to COVID-19 exposures, while this week has seen a high-demand for appointments.

“This week what I'm seeing is that people are nervous that we’re going to shut down, so everybody’s now calling trying to get a last-minute appointment," Swift said.

Public officials and businesses hope the yellows zone is enough of a warning to prevent a second shut down.