For more than four decades, John Bonizio has owned Metro Optics Eyewear. The lifelong Bronxite has never experienced anything like COVID-19, but as the owner of an essential business, has kept the store open during the pandemic.
While his stores in Throggs Neck, Parkchester, Hunts Point and Hartsdale are shuttered, 25 Westchester Square has stayed afloat. All completed work from the other locations could be picked up there and his staff has been on paid furlough.
Bonizio, 62, explained that if someone had an emergency, such as pink eye or something in their eye, they would be hesitant to go to the ER and wait for hours, surrounded by people with COVID-19. For this reason, he said that staying open was imperative.
“We’re primary care medical optometrists,” he said. “If you got a piece of metal in your eyes, what are you going to do about that?”
All of the staff have been wearing personal protective equipment (PPE,) gowns and gloves, there has been curbside delivery and items can be shipped to homes as well. Furthermore, the place is sterilized and cleaned twice a day.
He explained that the CDC originally ruled that eye exams were not essential, but they were taking people who broke their glasses or lost them. He stressed that only patients and the doctor know if it really is an emergency.
“Who makes the determination of what an emergency situation is,” he said. “That’s not up to politicians.”
Business during the pandemic has continued to be steady and last week the CDC changed its course and said eye exams are now allowed. So this past week, he reopened the store in Parkchester at 1332 Metropolitan Ave., and Monday, the locations in Hunts Point at 1038 Southern Blvd. and Throggs Neck at 815 Hutchinson River Pkwy., as well.
“We got to service the communities,” Bonizio stressed. “They all really need it.”