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Freeport salons, barbershops worried over governor's call to close

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a directive via Twitter Friday morning ordering all barber shops, nail and hair salons, and tattoo parlors to close, effective March 21 at 8 p.m., to help combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

The governor tweeted the directive at 8:48 a.m., stating, "These temporary closures are not going to be easy, but they are necessary to protect the public health."

"What we do next will have a massive impact on the trajectory of this virus in New York," the governor had tweeted earlier in the week. "We can only maintain public health by staying apart. The decision each of us makes now will impact us all tomorrow. Stay home."

Leon Broughton, a community leader and owner of Trimz Barbershop on Guy Lombardo Avenue, said the pandemic has caused his clientele to drop by more than 50 percent in the past couple of weeks. Most other local barber shops and beauty salons experienced either similar or even more drastic drops in their regular clientele since the pandemic begant. 

Manuel Gutierrez, of Beauty & Beast Hair Salon, said he usually saw at least 15 people stop by his hair salon every day before the pandemic. Now he only sees five clients a day, and the governor’s call has made him uneasy for both himself and his employees. Gutierrez hopes that as news spreads about the mandatory closures, his salon might see one last wave of income until the order to reopen occurs. 

“I’m not happy about this, but there’s no choice if this is what it takes to help and make sure everyone stays healthy,” he said. 

Although she opened her salon everyday this week, Isabel Vincente, of Isabel Beauty Salon, said she only had four customers throughout the week. When she heard that some place had at least five customers a day, she said she felt envious and was afraid of what the shutdown would mean for the business she has been operating for more than 15 years. 

“I don’t know how I’ll be able to pay rent,” Vincente said. “I’ve never experienced something like this before.”      

With local businesses already hurting before the shutdown, Broughton fears some small businesses might end up closing down for good. 

“We’ve been through the Great Recession and [Superstorm] Sandy,” said Broughton, who founded Trimz 20 years ago, “but it feels different this time. It’s going to be rough for all of us going forward.”