The new closures added strain to struggling small businesses. They have also taxed an already resource-starved city government, which barely had enough people to check every school before students returned last week and lacked the state-ordered number of inspectors for restaurants when indoor dining resumed.
The dividing lines can be stark between Lockdown City and the rest of New York.
In Forest Hills, Queens, parents protested the impending closure of a public school in an area where cases have been rising, while in nearby Corona, students attended class in person, quietly lining up each morning in six-foot intervals.
Restaurants in huge swaths of southern Brooklyn, site of the largest cluster of new cases, have been forced to return to takeout only, while in Manhattan, diners are still able to eat indoors, for the first time since March. In some cases, separate sides of the same street have different rules.
In the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, Lenox Romeo, 58, struggled just to understand why he was being ordered to shut his barbershop on Nostrand Avenue, which he’s owned for three decades, even after creating a website to take online bookings instead of his usual informal walk-ins.
His shop is in an “orange” zone, where most retail stores are allowed to open but nail salons, barbershops, gyms and other such personal care businesses — as well as schools — must temporarily close for at least 14 days.
“We thought, we meet the requirements so we should be good,” he said. “Why are we closing? We’re doing everything we’re supposed to do. The issue is not coming from here.”
Several blocks away in a “red” zone of Midwood, where only essential businesses may operate, a hair salon lamented its situation: “We are sad to announce that we will be closed for the next two weeks because of our zone,” read a sign on the closed door.