New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced portions of Monroe County had entered the orange zone, in the state’s method of placing restrictions on areas with higher numbers of COVID-19 cases.
The designation means non-essential businesses must close Wednesday for a minimum of two weeks. Restaurants are impacted by the ruling, and cannot offer inside seating until further notice, though they can offer outdoor seating, takeout, and delivery.
Some local businesses didn’t wait for government officials to tell them they had to close, or scale back operations. Seeing the COVID-19 numbers rise, some made that painful decision on their own.
“It’s just unfortunate,” said Ray Lo Re, owner of Salvatore’s at the Garage Door on East Ridge Rd. in Rochester. “I mean, the numbers just keep going up.”
Because of that, two weeks ago Lo Re made a decision no business owner wants to make: He shut down his bar and dining area until further notice. He says policing masking and social distancing rules and constant sanitizing brought added stress and cost. Because they specialize in pizza, and takeout and delivery orders are a major part of business, Lo Re says they’ll survive.
But it’s not the same.
“People go to bars to socialize,” he said. “And during the pandemic it just wasn't worth it for us.”
Some other businesses feel the same. The owners of Titus Tavern in Irondequoit let customers know they decided to close until at least after Thanksgiving, when they’ll reassess the situation. The establishment is not in the current orange zone. With COVID-19 numbers rising, they told Spectrum News it was the responsible thing to do.
Lo Re says closing the bar and dining side of his business will help keep employees and customers safe. The holidays are a busy time for bars and restaurants, which were already forced to close earlier this year due to the pandemic.
“It's just unfortunate,” he said. “A lot of a lot of places are not going to be able to absorb that hit again."