From Numbered Phases to Colored Zones: What Closures Will Affect Your Business

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On November 9th, many parts of Erie County were designated a Yellow Zone, and on November 18th, most of Erie County became a COVID-19 Orange Zone. These new terms came with more COVID-19-centered guidelines, all enacted to stop the spread of the virus. If you’re wondering how these new changes impact your business, we’ve got some insights for you.

Yellow Zones are described by Governor Cuomo as precautionary zones. The metrics allow for many public spaces to remain open for patrons and visitors, but with restrictions. A Yellow Zone isn’t a cluster of cases but rather a location where the spread of the virus has rapidly increased, or a community surrounding a cluster of cases. When Erie County was a Yellow Zone, it meant it was an area where COVID-19 was spreading dangerously fast.

Because of COVID-19’s spread and the increase in Erie County cases, the county will become an Orange Zone. Orange Zones have dramatically more restrictive guidelines.

  • High risk or non-essential businesses, such as gyms, fitness centers and classes, barber shops, hair salons, personal care services will be required to close on November 20th.
  • Restaurants will be permitted to offer only outdoor dining and, even then, be limited to four people to a table.
  • As of Monday, November 23rd, schools will close and move to remote learning only.
  • Gatherings of any kind – even at the Thanksgiving table – are limited to 10 people.
If Erie County were to become a Red Zone, only essential businesses would remain open, and we would revert back to a lockdown.

What are the differences between phases and zones? If you’ve read the guidelines for the new color zones, you might realize that they sound eerily similar to the reopening phases with which we became familiar this spring and summer. The phases that occurred in the earlier months of the pandemic were measures taken to safely open businesses, schools, restaurants and other public spaces to transition out of the lockdown. They provided metrics that each area of the State must meet in order to move onto the next phase of reopening.

The newer color zones, which are yellow, orange and red, are preventative measures — and they become increasingly more restrictive as the colors darken — which are designed to avoid another lockdown, if possible. The zones indicate areas where there is a cluster of COVID-19 cases. The biggest difference is that the colored zones were enacted as a result of a growing curve. As the curve increases, so do the restrictions on our businesses.

What if you have more questions? You can always check governor.ny.gov to see the latest COVID-19 updates.

And please don’t be afraid to reach out to our office. We’re here 24/7 as a resource to support small businesses. After all, we’re navigating through these zones too!

Lisa Coppola

Written by Lisa Coppola

Founder of The Coppola Firm

Lisa A. Coppola, Esq. understands the challenges her clients face, whether they’re starting a new business, taking their existing operations in a new direction, or facing a claim or threat.

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