Coronavirus Staten Island: Orange zone restrictions take effect

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SOUTH BEACH, Staten Island (WABC) -- Small business owners speak out after orange zone restrictions went into effect on Staten Island on Wednesday.

People are lining up for their pre-Thanksgiving COVID tests on Staten Island, hoping not to bring the virus to dinner with whoever they're seeing on Thursday.

The hope is to drive down the numbers that landed part of the island in in an orange zone.

Those restrictions began Wednesday, and business owners tell Eyewitness News that they are crippling.

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"Nobody can come inside like 25% it was before," Woodrow Diner Owner Magdy Kheir said.

With the southern part of Staten Island in the orange zone, indoor capacity went from 25% to zero at restaurants like the Woodrow Diner.

At nearby Sunset Pizza, customers can no longer sit with their slices.

"Definitely really tough. It's not fair that people can go to the north shore and eat and people over here, we gotta take out our tables and chairs and nobody can sit down inside," said Christopher Caputo, the owner's son.

"The restaurants are following the rules, and they invested so much into outdoor dining and everything else," Staten Island resident Joe Giunta said.

Gyms and salons, already struggling, are closed and so are schools.

The mayor on Wednesday, promised a reopening plan for schools next week, indicating it will be geographic.
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Candace McCowan has more on the school closures.


"Let's go school by school, because it's the way we can at least get started," de Blasio said.

Special education would come back first, followed by Pre-K and elementary, with a lot more testing.

"If you could test every student in the state, every day, that would be the optimal, right? But you can't. You just don't have enough tests," Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "So we have to correlate our testing capacity with the desire to keep schools open safely. "

As people line up for COVID tests, Cuomo says Thanksgiving will be a real test.

Staten Islanders like Joe Degregorio, who's in his 80s, tell us gatherings will be small.

"Very quiet, family, six people, total. I'm hoping the police don't shut us down," Degregorio said. "Six is ok, I believe, right?"

It's gatherings without masks, large and small, that people blame for driving up Staten Island's test positivity rate, not businesses and schools.

The mayor said in order for schools to reopen, parents will need to provide consent forms if they haven't already, so that their kids can be randomly tested.

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