Reopen News: Long Island enters Phase 3 Wednesday

LONG ISLAND (WABC) -- Long Island officially entered Phase 3 of reopening from the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday, meaning nail salons, spas, massage parlors, spa services and tanning salons are back in business.

It's the moment for which so many people have been waiting.

"This is probably like the second best day of my life, right now," Dix Hills resident Mary Jane Lubrano said about t the luxury of a manicure.

"I did my hair yesterday," Huntington resident Angela Montalvo added. "Hair you can handle, but this feels so good."
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Long Island officially entered Phase 3 of reopening from the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday, meaning nail salons, spas, massage parlors, spa services and tanning salons are back in business.

Both Montalvo and Lubrano said they had no concerns about getting their nails done because they trust the owner of Fantasy Nails and Spa in Huntington.

"I didn't have any hesitation coming in because I knew Kevin would take all the precautions he needed to keep everybody safe," Montalvo said.

Although they look a little bit different inside, nail salons are now open on Long Island under Phase 3. Many of the owners have installed plexiglass partitions between the customer and the worker.

RELATED: Mid-Hudson region enters Phase 3

Another strange feeling for people is eating inside a restaurant, which is also now allowed at 50% capacity.

The owner of Dix Hills diner admits he's feeling all sorts of emotions.

"We're excited, nervous, a little stressed," Peter Giannitsas said. "But we're here so this was the moment that we were waiting for."

Giannitsas has installed plexiglass partitions between the booths and has removed all of the tables from one room of the restaurant in order to meet the capacity requirement.

"It's a new rebirth," he said. "I mean, everything we did before is kind of different now."

He said some of his regular customers arrived at 8 a.m. when the restaurant first opened.

"They seemed very excited to get out of the house and come back to their familiar surroundings," Giannitsas said.

At Patrizia's in Hicksville, most who came out said it's about time.

The restaurant had a good crowd for a Wednesday night, but it wasn't packed. Some people may still be reluctant to dine out, but now they have that option.

Some people are already eyeing Phase 4, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that state health officials are continuing to study whether malls, movie theaters and gyms can reopen then.

"As soon as we get more information, we will make an informed decision," Cuomo said.

Simon Property Group, which operates Roosevelt Field in Garden City, Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station, and Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, issued a statement expressing disappointment.

"We are shocked and disappointed that enclosed shopping malls will not be allowed to re-open in Phase 4," a spokesperson said. "We have safely re-opened 186 properties across 38 states by implementing our rigorous safety protocols developed with world renowned epidemiologists and approved by state and local authorities. These protocols are even more rigorous and exceed the measures required for properties to re-open in Phase 4."

The spokesperson wrote that the company sent safety protocols to state and local officials in April to provide sufficient time for review, and that they have not been presented with scientific or other information showing that department stores and big box retailers can re-open more safely than the malls.

"In fact, our safety protocols are more stringent in many cases," the spokesperson wrote. "Our properties have wide pedestrian concourses and high ceilings with HVAC systems that refresh interior air. Many of the retail establishments which were allowed to re-open do not possess these attributes."

The spokesperson went on to say mall employees need to get back to work.

"Communities in New York rely upon the jobs, sales tax and property taxes generated from our properties," the statement read. "Statewide, Simon's properties support more than 15,700 jobs and deliver over $400 million in property and sales tax, including a staggering $100 million in real estate taxes. Local communities rely upon these taxes for essential public services including schools, fire and police...Enclosed retail should be allowed to re-open in Phase 4 with other retail establishments because they can do so in a responsible manner. Our communities and the livelihoods of our neighbors depend upon these properties being able to operate in the future. At this point, that future is in great doubt and while they remain closed the risk that they do not ever re-open increases."

Steven Stone, the owner of Title Boxing Club in Syosset, said hearing the news made him sick to his stomach.

"All I want to know is why?" Stone said. "Is this going to be July? Is this going to be August?"

Stone said he's ready to open now and has taken many safety precautions including removing half of the boxing bags and partitioning off space for people to work out and maintain physical distance.

He has taped off all of the lockers and medicine balls, has bottles of disinfecting spray and hand sanitizer for people to use and even has purchased a machine which disinfects boxing gloves and clothes in as little as 15 minutes.

"I've been ready for almost a month now," Stone said.

Stone said he gets emails everyday from clients wanting to return to the gym. In the meantime, the gym is continuing to offer free classes on its Facebook and Instagram pages under Title Boxing Gym Syosset.

Matilda Tycz, the owner of Max Challenge Gym in Glen Cove, expressed a similar frustration after hearing the news on Wednesday.

"We were planning to open July any capacity," Tycz said.

For now, they will just have to wait.


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