ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Portions of Monroe County are being upgraded to a COVID-19 orange zone, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.
The impacted areas include parts of the City of Rochester, as well as the Towns of Irondequoit and Brighton, and a small portion of Gates.
MORE | Gov. Cuomo: COVID-19 orange zone for parts of Rochester, Irondequoit, Brighton in Monroe County
New restrictions include the closure of high-risk, non-essential businesses like gyms and hair salons, capacity restrictions for religious worship services, outdoor and takeout dining, plus remote-only instruction for schools.
For businesses, and religious worship, the orange zone goes into effect Wednesday. For schools, the rules take effect Thursday.
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza released a joint statement Monday afternoon, advocating for schools to remain open, saying in part:
“We want to be clear: we believe our schools should remain open as long as there is no evidence of spread in schools,” the statement said. “The testing done in school buildings last week was proof that spread within the schools is not an issue, and that our schools are the safest place for our children during these uncertain times. We will continue to advocate on behalf of our local school districts, and will work with them to continue to meet the needs of their students.”
According to Irondequoit Supervisor Dave Seeley, the impacted area in the town is in the 14609 and 14621 zip codes. He added that the East Irondequoit Central School District will be impacted, as well as 14621 which is mostly comprised of the City of Rochester. Seeley said a “good portion” of businesses along East Ridge Road would be impacted too.
Brighton Central School District Superintendent Kevin McGowan posted an update on the district website Monday, saying learning would transition to a fully remote model beginning Monday.
West Irondequoit Central School District officials said WICSD was not impacted by the orange zone designation.
RCSD officials said the orange zone designation has little impact as they have been doing remote-only instruction since the school year began in September.
Yellow zone restrictions remain in place for most of Monroe County.
Full statement from Bello and Dr. Mendoza:
“Due to increasing spread of COVID-19, parts of Monroe County have been designated as an orange cluster zone by New York State. Unfortunately, this designation will bring new restrictions to our economy including the closure of high-risk, non-essential businesses such as personal care salons, barber shops and gyms and reduce in-person gatherings to no more than 10 people. In addition, school buildings located within the orange zone will have to close in person instruction until additional testing can be completed.
We want to be clear: we believe our schools should remain open as long as there is no evidence of spread in schools. The testing done in school buildings last week was proof that spread within the schools is not an issue, and that our schools are the safest place for our children during these uncertain times We will continue to advocate on behalf of our local school districts, and will work with them to continue to meet the needs of their students.
We are working with our government partners, school leaders and the business community to meet the needs of those affected by the orange cluster zone designation, and we are rapidly implementing a plan to provide increased COVID-19 testing in the affected zip codes.
Moving our community out of the yellow and orange cluster zones will take a community-wide effort. We know we can do this. Please continue to wear masks in public, wash your hands frequently, maintain a safe six-foot physical distance from others and limit your in-person gatherings. We all need to work together so we can safely reopen our economy and make sure our children are able to be in school.”
According to the governor’s office, orange zone restrictions include:
- Non-essential gatherings shall be limited to 10 people
- Houses of worship are subject to a capacity limit of the lesser of 33% of maximum occupancy or 25 people, whichever is fewer
- Restaurants and taverns must cease serving patrons food or beverage inside on-premises but may provide outdoor service, and may be open for takeout or delivery, provided that any one seated group or party must not exceed 4 people
- Schools must close for in-person instruction, except as otherwise provided in Executive Order.
- Certain non-essential businesses, for which there is a higher risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus, shall reduce in-person workforce by 100%; such businesses include:
- Gyms, fitness centers or classes
- Hair salons and barbershops
- All other personal care services including but not limited to spas, tattoo or piercing parlors, nail technicians and nail salons, cosmetologists, estheticians, the provision of laser hair removal and electrolysis
The governor said the state was reevaluating school restrictions, specifically for grades K-8 where the positivity rate, and transmission of the virus, remains very low. He said that junior high schools and high schools are a different pattern of transmission, but added that states in COVID-19 color zones can test out of the closure.
“Schools may reopen if they follow new guidelines that require mass testing in schools before they reopen followed by vigilant symptom and exposure screening conducted daily,” according to the New York State Department of Health.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.