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What must close in an Orange Zone? What can remain open?

New York State says closing certain high-risk businesses can help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Certain businesses in Erie County's Orange Zone that the state deems as high risk will need to close Friday. 

Schools in the orange zone will need to close Monday. However, there are steps they can take to reopen shortly thereafter. 

"I think what's really challenging from those businesses is they were the last businesses to sort of reopen, and now they're the first businesses to really be impaired," said Dottie Gallagher, the president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. 

Gyms, salons and barber shops that may have been just getting their footing, after months of being closed earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, are being forced to close their doors again, starting Friday.

"Many of those businesses would like to be open so that they can sell gift certificates. But at this point, they are closed unless they have an online opportunity to sell a gift certificate," said Patrick Kaler, the president of Visit Buffalo Niagara. 

Also deemed high-risk and non-essential are other personal care services such as spas, tattoo and piercing parlors.

Also beginning Friday, there are new rules for restaurants and bars. They cannot provide service inside, outdoor service is allowed, but seated groups can't exceed four people, and takeout and delivery are allowed.

"I am hearing of restaurants that are closing, and they're not closing because we've gone Orange, per se. It's really that they just can't with the restrictions in place in terms of capacity and the amount of business that they can do takeout. They just can't make it work," Gallagher said. 

Malls, movie theaters, and casinos can remain open.

But personal care services inside will be need to close and restaurants inside need to follow the new rules.

Cluster zone rules are in effect for a minimum of two weeks.

"If it's only two weeks that's one thing, if this goes on for weeks and weeks and we move into the red zone that's a whole different ballgame," Gallagher said. 

In a Red Zone, all non-essential businesses need to close, and restaurants can only do takeout or delivery.

In an Orange Zone, school-sponsored sports are closed, sports and recreational activities that are not affiliated with a school, it will be up to local governments to determine whether low-risk sports can be played and which ones such as soccer, tennis and golf.

Local governments are also in charge of parks.

If you're wondering whether you live or work in a cluster zone, the state has created a tool that can look up your location.


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