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NYS changes focus for restrictions, orange zone businesses question whether it makes sense

Posted at 11:51 PM, Dec 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-07 23:51:55-05

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — While the styling chairs are empty at Kalu Salon and Day Spa in Amherst, owner Tammy Pollino said she's been writing letters to the governor, lieutenant governor, and county executive nearly other day. She is asking them for the chance to reopen.

“We had zero covid cases traced back to us, known," Pollino said. "I'm not saying it couldn’t possibly be out there, but nothing's been traced back to us, that’s zero percent.”

On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new metrics for indoor dining capacity. He said the state is following CDC guidelines that point to indoor dining as a COVID-19 spreader.

Janine Testa owns Holistic Skin Care by Janine in Williamsville. Like Pollino, Testa is now questioning why her personal care business in the orange zone remains closed if new restrictions focus on dining.

“We’re not given any guideline or time frame of when we can reopen, and it seems like now it's changed as to what the plan is,” Testa said.

Testa said zero cases of COVID-19 were traced back to her business.

The state is focusing on hospitalization rates to determine future shutdowns. Positivity rate was a main metric used when Testa's business was put in the orange zone.

“My reaction is just, a little baffled because of the change now,” Testa said.

Cuomo did not clarify if existing zones would be altered or eliminated based on new metrics, saying the state is basing decisions of CDC guidance regarding indoor dining.

“Gyms and salons on the numbers, we have so many protocols on the gyms and salons they’re not major spreaders on the number, it is about indoor dining," Cuomo said. "This will, this is on top of the orange regulations, so this would supersede.”

Pollino said she lost more than $100,000 this year, which is about 20% of her annual service revenue. She said she was hoping to make some of it back right now during her busiest six weeks of the year.

"It's very frustrating because everyday that you hear him speak he specifically says that he’s not worried, we’re not worried, the CDC is not worried about salons and gyms because we are not the source of spreading of covid,” Pollino said.

Cuomo said if after the state's surge and flex plan is implemented a region's 7-day average hospitalization growth rate shows that within three weeks it will hit critical hospital capacity, or 90%, the state will enact a NY PAUSE shutdown in that region.