While most businesses will be allowed to remain open in the hot-spot zip codes of Brooklyn and Queens where COVID-19 infection rates have exceeded 3 percent, many still fear a possible closing that might cause irreparable damage to their businesses.
Governor Cuomo concurred with Mayor Bill de Blasio on closing schools, but held off shutting businesses saying they “were not considered high infection spreaders.”
However, he has not ruled out closing non-essential businesses such as restaurants, nail salons, barber and beauty shops and other non-essential retail if Covid-19 infections were not brought under control or rose even further than they have recently.
Business owners expressed concern, especially after the mayor called for the closing of all non-essential businesses in his Sunday press conference.
“I think it sucks, but what are you going to do,” said Fred Pacace, owner of the famed Italian Restaurant Michael’s Restaurant on Avenue R and Nostrand in Madison, Brooklyn.
“It’s harming us for not a good enough reason – we tried to make it as nice as possible for people in the neighborhood, but what are you going to do,” he sighed. “We did everything that was asked of us and that’s all we can do. We just gotta roll with it – what’s killing you makes your stronger.”
We were starting to come back a little, then this set us back – a few people decide to do what they want and not wear masks and this is the outcome,” said Frank Sandy, owner of JR Pizzaria on Kings Highway in Midwood, Brooklyn.
“People don’t do the right thing and wear their masks – something simple, and this is what we have,” he said. “It’s awful because a lot of people are going to suffer – the hair cutters are not going to pay rent again, the manicurists, the gyms that were starting to pick up a little bit. Now they are going to be shut down again and more people out of work. Awful.”
“We are trying to open our business and it’s very hard already,” said Lan Ho, manager of Sparkle Nail Salon on avenue U in one of the zip codes. Her salon already has plexiglass separating customers, sanitizers are in the open and masks are worn by both workers and customers.
“You gotta follow the rules – we do that, but it’s still very hard,” Ho said. “If we close again, I don’t know – but we try everything, put on masks, and keep things clean, There are still people who don’t put on the mask – they are not nice – they still don’t like to put on the mask.
Michael Blue, owner of Zooloo Leather Goods on Avenue U in Sheepshead Bay had racks of jackets on clearance outside his store, taking advantage of the pleasant weather. He said when asked how he will make it if they are forced to close, he said, “we’re not, we’re not.”
“If they close it down for a month or so, you gotta pay the rent still, it’s terrible,” Blue said, adding, “But you can look at it two ways, we are trying to get rid of the problem, and you have COVID that we were hoping was going away, but now it’s not and it’s coming back – for business-wise, it’s terrible.”
Several blocks away, Jay and Lloyds Deli, a famous eatery on Avenue U had a “for rent” sign. Neighbors say he couldn’t remain open after being closed for three months. Some experts estimate that 60 percent of restaurants will not survive COVID-19 closures.