Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, personal care services are the latest businesses to be closed.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday directed the temporary closure of barber shops, nail and hair salons, tattoo parlors and related personal care services by 8 p.m. Sat. March 21.

This is the latest step in the statewide effort to increase social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout the four states.

“We know how the novel coronavirus spreads, and we are making data-driven decisions as the situation evolves to continue to reduce density and slow the spread of the virus,” Cuomo said. “We remain in constant communication with our neighboring states to ensure we are establishing a set of uniform rules and regulations for the entire region. These temporary closures are not going to be easy, but they are necessary to protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers and all Americans.”

In order to limit crowd capacity for recreational and social gatherings to 50 people, movie theaters, gyms, casinos, and on-premise service at restaurants and bars were ordered to close Monday.

As of 8 p.m. Thursday, all indoor portions of retail shopping malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys were also closed.

“We all agree with it,” Paula Colarusso, owner of Spruce Salon in Greenport, said. “The declaration’s appropriate. Nobody wants to shut down their business, but we also don’t want to be the business that ends up hurting someone.”

Colarusso let her employees go when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reccomended a six-foot distance earlier this week. However, she could not direct professionals who rent suites in her space to stay home until the governor’s announcement Friday.

“We really care about our clients and we take extrordinary measures to make sure that everyone is safe, but really the safest place that people should be is in their homes,” Colarusso said.

She said she would rather people in her industry do too much than not enough.

“We’re going to come out of this fine,” Colarusso said. “We’re resilient people, I think we’re going to do just fine.”

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-19, introduced legislation to relieve Small Business Loan payments for six months, including principal, interest and fees. Delgado is a member of the House’s Small Business Committee.

The Small Business Repayment Relief Act would provide nearly $17 billion of federal funding in automatic, direct-loan payments for new and existing qualified Small Business Loans without any action from small businesses.

“Small businesses in upstate New York and across the country are already facing devastating impacts from the economic fallout of COVID-19,” Delgado said. “I continue to hear from small businesses and self-employed owners in NY-19 who have had to make heart-breaking decisions to close shops and lay off staff.”

There are nearly 27,000 small businesses and self-employed owners in Delgado’s district, which encompasses Columbia, Greene, Delaware, Ostego, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties, as well as parts of Broome, Dutchess, Montgomery and Rensselaer counties.

“We have no time to waste to help small businesses and the millions of employees whose livelihoods are at stake right now. The scale and speed of the federal government response will determine the future of independent restaurants, hotels, retailers, child care centers, and so many other small businesses across the country,” Delgado said.

The bill would assist borrowers in three major Small Business Association lending programs. The 7(a) Loan Guarantee Program currently has $95 billion in outstanding loans, with the restaurant and hotel industries sharing the largest volume.

Many counties in Delgado’s district have heavy tourism industries, which will be hit hard in coming weeks. Child care centers, dental practices and medical practices also rely on the program.

The 504 Certified Development Company loan-guarantee program, which provides long-term, fixed-rate financing for major fixed assets, such as buildings, land, equipment and machinery, and microloan programs, has $26 billion in outstanding loans.

The Microloan program, which has more than $560 million outstanding, provides up to $50,000 to small businesses and nonprofit child care centers via nonprofit intermediary lenders.

The bill would immediately support the approximately 320,000 small businesses across America that participate in these loan programs, according to Delgado’s statement.

Abby Hoover is a reporter for Columbia-Greene Media. Contact her at ahoover@registerstar.com.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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