- October 10, 2021
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BUFFALO, N.Y. — The fate of gyms, salons, barbershops, and other personal care businesses has remained a steady unknown for months. Doors have opened, closed, reopened, and re-closed leaving many of these business owners in limbo and others without jobs.
Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced, based on new data, that gyms and salons were not identified as superspreaders and could therefore reopen at the start of the week.
Monday, doors were officially given the green light to reopen, with additional regulations in the “Orange Zone.”
Amy Bueme is the owner of Catalyst Fitness and says while Monday was a happy day, it was also frustrating.
“Now that we’re open again, it’s like, when are we going to close?” Bueme says.
And she isn’t alone when it comes to feeling frustrated with running a business in constant uncertainty.
With the ability to now reopen doors at 25 percent capacity, Bueme says she’s doing her best to get clients back in the doors, but it’s definitely a challenge.
“I knew that we were going to continue to have an issue as long as we are not being considered an essential business, so I knew I had my work cut out for me,” she says.
Many gyms, including Catalyst, have turned to virtual on-demand classes to keep momentum up and running.
Bueme tells 2 On Your Side, while this option has definitely been very helpful, not everyone has access to the internet or equipment and other simply just need that in-person motivation.
“We help people mentally and physically,” Bueme said. “Anxiety, sleep, depression and many other things people are going through during this very trying time.”
No doubt, the controversy around whether or not gyms should open or close in either Orange Zone or Red Zone isn’t dying down anytime soon.
Morgan Karp is owns Sweat716, a smaller boutique fitness studio in downtown Buffalo and says for her Monday’s reopening felt like just another day at the office, especially given the fact that she chose to open for one class only.
“With everything transitioning virtually now, we’re just going to keep it going and keep adding content to our on-demand library and keep offering virtual classes for people who want to avoid he drive time,” Karp says.
Of course it’s frustrating, Karp says, especially as a smaller business, but she has found a way to keep her staff and payroll going by adding more classes and getting creative.
“With numbers increasing, it’s just not worth it,” Karp says about adding more classes in-studio.
Salons and barbershops; however, don’t have as many options.
Rachel Casey co-owns Rust Belt Barbering & Salon in the Elmwood Village and says things have been tough, but her loyal clients have made these uncertain times easier.
Regarding their reopening, Casey tells 2 On Your Side, “We’ve been very busy today [Monday] and people that are coming in are grateful that we’re open.”
But nonetheless, it’s extremely difficult, especially as a business owner, when your employees livelihoods are in your hands.
“It’s scary that I can’t pull money out of thin air to give to everybody,” Casey said.
The reopening of gyms, fitness centers, salons, barbershops and other personal care businesses in the Orange Zone must do so in compliance with with state rules and regulations, which includes more frequent testing.
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