Reopening News: Long Island businesses, residents enter Phase 2 reopening

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Long Island businesses, residents enter Phase 2 reopening
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Kristin Thorne speaks with local business owners hoping to rebound as they reopen.

LONG ISLAND (WABC) -- Long Island officially entered Phase 2 of its reopening from the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday, meaning outdoor dining and some in-store retail stores are back in business for the first time in weeks.

Phase 2 also allows for the reopening of hair salons, barbershops, in-person retail car sales, and office-based businesses. Nail salons, however, will remain closed.

"I'm just happy to be back to work," said Alex Ilyayev, owner of Gentlemen's Barber Shop in Huntington. "Enough is enough."

Under the Phase 2 guidelines, barbershops and hair salons have to reduce capacity inside their establishments by 50%. They also have to follow all CDC health guidelines like ensuring social distancing, wearing masks, and having plenty of hand sanitizer.

At Escape Salon in Huntington, they are staggering appointments throughout the day and are taking the temperature of every client. They've also sent up plastic plexiglass barriers in between the hair setting chairs and curtains between the hair washing stations.

Owner Anthony D'Angelo said it felt like opening day.

"It's like opening up to the unknown all over again," he said. "Not knowing how people would react."

People who have waited months to have their hair cut have been waiting for this day.

"This is essential, remember that," said Janet DiStefano, of Dix Hills, as she was having her hair washed at Escape Salon.

Ed Tracy, of Cold Spring Harbor, was happy to be back in the seat at Ilyayev's barbershop.

"It's been 15 weeks since I had a haircut," he said. "I'm really thrilled that they're back in business for their own personal sake, as well as for all of their customers."

DeFranco Spagnolo Salon in Great Neck is also doing temperatures checks and has signs on the floor directing customers where to stand, and clients are spaced apart for safety.

"They have to call before they enter the salon," owner Anthony DeFranco said. "They have to sign a waiver. They must have a mask on and gloves if possible."

At ITA Kitchen in Bay Shore, they're maximizing whatever outdoor space they have by placing tables not only in the front, but also around the side and back of the property.

Alex Moschos, the owner of Neraki Mediterranean Grill in Huntington, can seat up to 60 people inside his restaurant. He can only seat 16 people outside.

"Financially, it's been backbreaking," he said.

Moschos said his profits are down by 75%, but he's remaining positive that Phase 2 will help ease some of the financial stress.

"I've got to be positive for my staff members, I've got to be positive for my family and I've got to be positive for the community, so they can see we're in this together and we're moving forward," he said.

In Port Washington, Louie's on the Water was beginning to bustle once again.

"We've been waiting since 9:30 this morning in the parking lot, so I mean, you know, you can eat spicy tuna dip for breakfast and oysters," customer Jim McLaughlin said. "What's the difference at this point?"

At the Metropolitan Bistro in Sea Cliff, they've added tables in the parking lot to increase capacity.

Takeout orders have not made up for the loss.

"We were pretty much devastated, and we thought we could do to-go but didn't think that could keep us alive," the owner said.

Mostly people are just hungry, not only for fresh food but for some form of human contact and customer service - albeit with masks and sanitizer. Still, it is a welcome end to isolation and loss.

Houses of worship can also open under with 25% capacity. At St. Patrick's Church in Huntington, they've blocked off pews to make sure they are able to meet that requirement. They're also sanitizing the pews after every mass.

"When I was ordained 33 years ago, there was no class in seminary that said, 'How do you deal with a pandemic?'" Monsignor Steven Camp said. "So a lot of this has just been going with the flow."

Camp said he doesn't expect parishioners to come back in droves right away.

"I don't think we're going to get 100% of the people coming back," he said. "I think people are still nervous."

While stores are opening back up, the interior of malls - besides the anchor stores - are remaining closed. But Nassau County Executive Laura Curran is asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to change that.

"Malls employ thousands and thousands," she said. "They pay millions in property taxes, and I'm concerned some of our malls are not going to make it."

In West Hempstead, they're filling the town pool at Echo Park -- but they don't know yet when it will be filled with swimmers.

As for Little League, Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin and the Town Board also sent Cuomo a letter, this one requesting that ballfields be a part of the Phase 2 reopening.

"These kids are screaming to get out and do activity," Clavin said. "And we can do it in a responsible manner."

"They've got to get out," Baldwin Little League Director Tom Rielly said. "Their mental health is really deteriorating."

One thing that may help is that Curran announced Wednesday that Nassau County public pools will reopen for residents only on July 3, just in time for the holiday weekend.

Businesses that will wait for future phases to reopen include:

--Indoor malls where you cannot enter the store from the outside

--Indoor on-premise restaurant and bar service

--Large gathering/event venues

--Gyms, fitness centers, and exercise classes, except for remote or streaming services

--Video lottery and casino gaming facilities

--Movie theaters, except drive-ins

--Places of public amusement, including amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, arcades, fairs, children's play centers, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, family and children's attractions

Nassau and Suffolk counties progressed one day after the Mid-Hudson region, which includes Westchester and Rockland counties, began Phase 2.

The rest of the state is already in Phase 2, except for New York City, which entered Phase 1 Monday.


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