‘Re-Open ROC’ gaining steam as orange zone shutdown carries on


ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — City Councilman Willie Lightfoot also owns New Creations Unisex Shop on Jefferson Avenue in Rochester. With the city in the orange zone, Lightfoot is shut down, and last week, he started a petition to ‘Re-Open ROC’.

Lightfoot says he has spent the holiday weekend talking to business owners across the orange zone. He says he has well over 600 signatures from those people hoping to eliminate, or at least re-think, the shutdown. Lightfoot says the jaggedly-drawn shutdown is impacting the already struggling city economy. 

“It just seemed like a knee-jerk reaction to me. I don’t see data behind it,” he says.

Lightfoot says the numbers show that barbershops, salons, and other businesses are not spreaders of COVID-19. Gatherings are behind the spike. In his daily briefing on Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo also said that small gatherings are the most problematic setting in terms of viral spread, which is why he predicted that COVID-19 rates would continue to rise through New Year’s Day.

“I have barbers who have families. They’ve not been given any guidance on if they should apply for unemployment if they’re going to be given any additional assistance…” Lightfoot says.

“Not many (COVID-19) cases have been coming out of Barbershops,” says Wade Davis of Wade & Me Barbershop and Salon in the Beechwood Neighborhood. He says this closure is killing the most vulnerable businesses. He is one of the over 600 to sign Lightfoots’ petition.

“We felt that we had to act, and we wanted to be pro-active this time around,” says Davis.

Tuesday night after News 8’s coronavirus town hall, the Public Health Commissioner said if we can’t get control of this pandemic locally, we could go back to a full shutdown like we saw in March. The zones for now, a way to keep things open.

“Well, we’re trying to get creative, we’re trying to find ways to avoid closing down the entire community.” says Dr. Michael Mendoza.

The County Executive said the current ‘color zone’ methods are being re-visited. “We really want to get to the heart of where the spread is occurring, and how do we appeal to people’s better nature to do the right thing,” says Executive Adam Bello.

Either way, Lightfoot says with each passing day, more permanent pandemic damage is being done. He’s asking Albany and the County to find another way. 

“I really think it was just a poor decision, especially at this time, this holiday season,” says Lightfoot.

Lightfoot says once he gets 1,000 signatures, he’s sending his petition in to the Governor, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy, and County Executive Bello.

For more information on the petition to Re-Open ROC, click here.

Signs on door at Lightfoot’s ‘New Creations’

City Councilman Willie Lightfoot’s letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

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