Orange zone restrictions are set to take effect in Syracuse on Wednesday. That means gyms and hair salons must close and restaurants can only do takeout and outdoor dining. It’s another hit for certain industries that have been struggling particularly hard throughout the pandemic.
Randy Sabourin is the owner of the Metro Fitness clubs in Syracuse and Fayetteville. They were already closed for about six months this year. Now, facing the closure of at least his Syracuse location, he said it gets more difficult to convince people that going to the gym is safe.
“There’s that constant battle of trying to get people to come back every time you are forced to or mandated to close,” Sabourin said.
He’s frustrated with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“We just want people to trust us,” he said. “It seems like every time Cuomo talks about us, we’re just lumped in as an irresponsible, unsafe industry and that’s not the case.”
They are going virtual with their personal training, but he called that a Band-Aid. Sabourin is concerned about his employees and his business without additional federal stimulus funding.
“It’s tough,” he said. “I don’t know what the future looks like.”
Restaurants will also have to get creative if they want to stay open for dining. Earlier this month, the City of Syracuse released winter outdoor dining guidelines. That includes extending the season for outdoor café seating. It also allows parklets, or outdoor seating areas in parking spots, to continue until the first major snowfall. Restaurants can install outdoor vestibules, domes and other enclosures.
Merike Treier, executive director of the Downtown Committee of Syracuse, said restaurants have been making various plans. While some are looking into winter outdoor dining, others were making plans to retrofit their indoor spaces.
“I think people right now are pivoting to understand how they’re going to manage these next steps,” Treier said.
Takeout and curbside pickup will still be available. Onondaga County and Syracuse are also offering grants to small businesses to buy outdoor equipment and make other COVID-safe improvements.