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Erie County businesses file lawsuit, target COVID restrictions

An Amherst law firm has filed a lawsuit on behalf of 38 county businesses representing hair salons, barber shops, aestheticians, and beauty parlors.

AMHERST, N.Y. — An Amherst law firm has filed a lawsuit on behalf of 38 businesses that seek "a systemwide reopening" across New York.

The lawsuit, filed by HoganWillig Attorneys at Law, includes plaintiffs representing hair salons, barber shops, aestheticians, and beauty parlors across Erie County.

People and entities listed in the lawsuit are Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Senate and Assembly, the state's Health and Economic Development departments, Empire State Development Corporation, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, and the Erie County Department of Health.

The lawsuit states that the businesses' services "do not present an increased risk of spreading COVID-19, nor has there ever been any credible proof or data offered of any such claim" by the state or county.

The lawsuit also seeks an injunction, stating that "petitioners will suffer immediate and irreparable harm if the relief requested is not granted, as a second temporary closure of their respective businesses" under Orange Zone guidelines.

With much of Erie County in an Orange Zone for weeks, a lot of businesses were forced to shut down, in compliance with New York State COVID-19 guidelines.

However, earlier this week, Cuomo had previously said personal care services such as gyms and salons are high-risk when it comes to the spread of COVID-19. During a press briefing Monday he changed his tone, saying "they are not major spreaders."

"The real difference between a Yellow Zone and an Orange Zone is the indoor dining and gyms and salons," Cuomo said. "Gyms and salons on the numbers, we have so many protocols on the gyms and salons, they are not major spreaders on the numbers."

Personal care services are currently closed in areas within the Orange Zone, which is a majority of Erie County.