Businesses in Rockville Centre are suffering, and things are getting worse. First it was the gyms and the restaurants, now it’s the hair and nail salons. Next week, it will be almost everyone. The latest directive issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo orders all non-essential businesses to close by March 22. This came just hours after a directive issued to close all all barber shops, nail and hair salons, and tattoo parlors to close, effective March 21 at 8 p.m. This puts an extra strain on Rockville Centre businesses that were already suffering.
Steven Picciano, co-owner of Glass Beauty Bar, said the past three days have been extremely challenging, as they have been consistently trying to keep up with the changing guidelines and were trying to squeeze in last minute clients.
“Business had been good the last few weeks, but this week has been tough,” Picciano said. “We were making new plans as new orders came.”
Throughout the week, he said they were trying to accommodate private clients, but has been surprised at some requests: some customers have asked if the stylists would make house calls, but for him, that’s out of the question.
“I think we can put a brief pause on our hair care concerns to focus on our health care concerns,” he said, “because the risks aren’t worth the rewards.
“If we bring our supplies in and enter someone’s home,” he added, “we’re inadvertently asking for trouble.”
Now, he said, he and co-owner Jessica Durante are working on ways to communicate with their clients, and to also let them know they can support the salon by purchasing gift cards in the interim. As soon as they are given the greenlight to reopen—and can be at least 25 percent staffed—Glass Beauty Bar will prioritize appointments for those who need hair color and people who have had to reschedule. Beyond that, he hopes business will come back.
“We’re building plans to move forward and reopen as strong as ever, as soon as we can,” Picciano said. “We’re anticipating a sort of ‘Christmas rush’ and hope to have everybody feeling good as they get back to work.”
Jonathan Katonov, owner of Salon Prime, said business had already been dropping by 70 percent over the past week, and they had to decrease employees’ hours. He and his staff had been trying to inform clients that the salon is clean and safe, but still, cancellations increased, even ahead of the order to close.
He remained positive that the salon, which has been open for 15 months, will bounce back after the pandemic.
“When everything goes back to normal, we’ll better,” he said, “and we’ll go from there.”
Manny Aba owns Rockville Barber Shop and said his business had also been suffering by a lack of clientele. By Friday morning, he said, there was not even enough demand for one barber, so he had to close early.
“I don’t know what the outcome will be,” Aba said. “All small businesses are hurting. I wish there was some help, but a small business loan is hard to get, especially for a fairly new barber shop.”
He said a lot of his customers are also small business owners, and are frustrated by the situation.
“It’s scary to hear that some will close,” Aba said, “and they might never return back.”
Cuomo tweeted the directive at 8:48 a.m., stating, "These temporary closures are not going to be easy, but they are necessary to protect the public health."
Hours later, the governor ordered all "non-essential" businesses to close, effective on the evening of Sunday, March 22. Essential services include medical, police, fire, water, sewer and food, including restaurants, which he said would be allowed to continue offering takeout.
Cuomo said he knew the executive order would cause "disruption."
"I accept full responsibility..." he said. "There is no one else who is responsible for this decision."
The decision to shut down a majority of businesses would hurt, the governor said, and so he was ordering the halting of any residential and commercial evictions for 90 days.
Mass transit, he said, would remain operational in order to carry essential workers to their jobs.
Civil fines would be imposed on businesses that ignore the order. They might also be shut down indefinitely.
The governor reported that coronavirus cases continued to climb steadily to 7,102 statewide, with 18 percent of patients hospitalized.
Cases in Nassau stood at 754 as of Friday morning. Meanwhile, there were more than 4,400 cases in New York City.
Cuomo said the state was testing "more per capita" than China and South Korea, which, he said, explained a sudden spike in cases. The governor said the state has ramped up testing to more than 10,000 people a day.
The current rate of infection threatens to overwhelm hospitals, according to Cuomo. The rate, he said, is double the current hospital capacity, and three times the intensive care unit capacity. Universities across the state, including SUNY Stony Brook and SUNY Farmingdale, may serve as makeshift hospitals in the near future.
The closure of businesses, Cuomo said, would be for the "foreseeable future."
"This is not life as usual," he noted.