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Elmont business owners prepare for Phase Three

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Danielle Vetter is expecting Queens residents to flood the Solid Gold Tattoo Shop in Elmont when it reopens on June 24. 

People have been calling the tattoo parlor for appointments since Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all “non-essential” businesses closed in mid-March, Vetter explained, and because New York City is one phase behind Long Island in its reopening process, Queens residents may cross the border to get a new tattoo or piercing.

“We have a very solid clientele,” Vetter, co-owner of the shop, said, noting that the parlor has survived for 10 years, and the tattoo artists have never had three months off from work before. To keep themselves busy during the pandemic, she said, the artists have been selling their own paintings, and the staff has repainted and renovated the store for its grand opening on Wednesday. 

Under Cuomo’s guidance, personal services — including spas and tattoo parlors — will be allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity on June 24, when Long Island reaches the third phase of the state’s reopening process, but waiting rooms must remain closed. 

Additionally, Vetter said, the Solid Gold Tattoo Shop has “very strict cleanliness and cross contamination” policies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and the stations are “pretty much already six-feet away from each other.” She has also set up hand sanitizing stations in the store, and said staff members will be taking clients’ temperatures when they walk in. 

Inkings and piercings will be done by appointment only, although clients could also call the store to see when an artist would be available for a walk-in appointment. 

“We are ready to get back to work,” Vetter said. “We’re pretty hyped on everything.”

But not everyone feels that way. The owners of Love Nails in Elmont are afraid to reopen because “they don’t know what’s going to happen with the coronavirus,” their daughter, Monica Chung, said. As a precaution, the salon has installed glass barriers between the chairs, and nail artists are required to wear face shields, masks and gloves.

Phase Three also allows for restaurants to offer indoor, in-person dining, provided employees and patrons wear masks, and maintain social distancing guidelines. Only 10 people would be allowed at a table, according to the governor’s New York Forward website, and they must maintain 50 percent capacity.

But even with these regulations in place, Elmont Chamber of Commerce President Paul Sapienza said, restaurant owners will benefit. They were allowed to offer outdoor dining under Phase Two, he explained, but could only offer the service in sunny weather. And now that they can offer indoor dining, Franklin Square Chamber President Lisa DelliPizzi noted, the restaurants could once again host meetings and parties.

“They just have to comply with the rules,” she said, adding that she is happy that the small businesses that are reopening do not have to compete with large retailers and malls yet.

Cuomo also said at his daily briefing on June 18 that he was in  a “happy-go-lucky mood” because New York had tested 68,000 people overnight and found an average infection rate of 0.9 percent — the lowest it has been since the coronavirus pandemic began in mid-March. New York City’s infection rate was 1 percent, while Long Island’s was 0.7 percent. By contrast, the infection rate had previously reached 20 percent in New York City and 16 percent on Long Island.

“New York went from being one of the worst states in the country to one of the best” for coronavirus cases, Sapienza said, attributing the improvements to the precautions the state government took. Florida, however, saw an additional 3,822 cases on June 19, and Arizona saw an additional 3,246, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  

But, Sapienza said, “If we can’t be responsible, there’s no way our economy can come back.”