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Long Island shop owners, business groups, mostly OK with Cuomo mask order

An employee at a Southampton hardware store speaks

An employee at a Southampton hardware store speaks to customers on April 8 about allowing only two people in their store at a time and only those wearing masks. Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost

Entrepreneurs and representatives of commercial groups mostly approve of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive order allowing business owners wide discretion on who can enter their establishments without wearing a protective mask.

Cuomo on Thursday issued the order enabling business owners to kick out – or deny entry to – any customer or patron who is not wearing a face mask or protective covering.

“There is silver lining in every mask,” said Bob Fonti, co-chair of the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers. “I don’t see the downside in taking precautions, especially in a closed environment. It’s prudent to be careful and conscious of the health of others and not just yourself.”

Juan Munar, owner of Kings of Blades, a barbershop in Farmingville, said he appreciated the order's leeway for business owners.

Munar, who employs more than 10 barbers, and also cuts hair, said he sees Cuomo’s order as “mostly about the safety of my barbers and the safety of people.”

However, in some instances, Munar said he could envision allowing customers to briefly take masks off. He specifically mentioned shaving men’s faces, a big moneymaker in his shop.

“If it’s not mandated, then at the same time, it’s good for some business owners. It comes down to the relationship between the customers, owners and the barbers. It will help make us profitable, especially barbershops,” Munar said.

Eric Alexander, executive director of Vision Long Island, a growth planning group in Northport, expressed mixed feelings about the order.

“We want businesses to reopen in as many categories as possible," Alexander said. "These sorts of safety measures help slow the spread of the virus, and also build up public trust.”

He added: “As a long-term policy, of course, the use of masks should cease as Long Islanders seek to get back to normal.”

Patrick Sullivan, owner of Brightwaters Village Deli, said as someone who wears glasses, donning a face mask is highly annoying. Sullivan’s takeout-only deli has remained open during the pandemic. There’s a sign at the front of the eatery instructing customers that masks and social-distancing are required.

Sullivan said customers, even if they try to come into the deli sans masks, see the sign and comply.

“Everybody’s got to do their part. The masks are there and people should have to wear them," Sullivan said. "Am I a fan? Absolutely not. But what am I going to do?”

Sullivan said he may one day allow a customer to pick up some grub without donning a mask or face cover.

“We‘ll see when that day comes," he said. "All I can do is ask.”

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