Things will look a little different in the local business community today as Cattaraugus County and the rest of Western New York enter the first day of the Phase 2 reopening.
Probably the most awaited openings by the most people are the hair salons and barbers. There will be new safeguards for customers and employees alike in this coronavirus pandemic. Everyone will wear masks.
Forget the waiting room with a tabletop full of magazines. Call from your car when you arrive for your scheduled appointment. The barber/stylist will disinfect the area. Don’t expect a wash, cut and blow-dry.
Check with your stylist, but be prepared to wash your hair beforehand and blow-dry it when you get back home. Don’t forget to wash your hands before and after.
Meanwhile, no new COVID-19 cases were announced on Monday. There are currently 69 positive cases and four deaths from COVID-19. For coronavirus tests call 938-9119.
“We have been a source of information for the templates produced by New York State and template,” said Crystal Abers, director of the county Department of Economic Development, Planning and Tourism. “It’s pretty straightforward as to what they need to do.”
Abers said a lot of the requirements are similar to the common sense requirements that ushered in Phase 1 two weeks ago.
A lot of calls and emails to the county Department of Economic Development, Planning and Tourism have been about where to get facemasks, cleaning products and plexiglass shields.
“Everybody is pleasant,” Abers said. “They are concerned about the safety of their employees and customers. They want to make sure all the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed.”
In addition, barbers and hair stylists will need to be tested for COVID-19. There is no cost. They should call 938-9119 for an appointment. Those tests have been available since last Thursday.
Also, dentists in Western New York, who had been limited to emergencies, will be able to reopen under limited guidelines. Waiting rooms will not be used. Most patients will call the office from the parking lot that they have arrived.
Also set to open today after Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the final OK Monday afternoon are offices; real estate; in-store retail; car sales, lease and rentals; retail rentals, repair and cleaning; and commercial building management.
Abers said some offices may only be at 50% capacity to start. Nevertheless, she called the move into Phase 2 exciting.
“Every phase, more and more businesses will reopen,” she said.
Abers and her staff have been helping businesses navigate the reopening blueprint. Forward.NY.gov has Phase 2 guidance available, as well as templates for best practices.
“What’s important for each business to understand is on the website,” she added. “You need to read the guidelines and affirm that you are following them. Then you print it off and post it.”
“A lot of the beauty salons and barber shops” have already scheduled customers for this week,” Abers said. “I wish we’d officially known sooner that Phase 2 would begin this week.
Abers noted that businesses previously not considered essential have changed. She recommended checking with esd.ny.gov for the list of the latest essential businesses.
Campgrounds got the go-ahead from the governor’s office over the weekend.
Previously, only self-contained recreational vehicles were permitted at campgrounds. Congregate areas will still be closed and social distancing will be enforced in restrooms.
Restaurants still aren’t open under Phase 2, nor is outdoor dining permitted at this time. Take-out meals at drive-thrus and curb service will continue for now.
At Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce, Meme Yanetsko, chief operating officer, said members have been calling to check if their business is in the next phase to open and where they can find materials including masks and plexiglass shields.
“We direct them to members or non-members with the necessary materials,” Yanetsko said.
She is telling businesses to hit the affirm button on the Forward.NY.gov website when they have met all the requirements for reopening. Then print it off and post it.
Corey Wiktor, executive director of the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency, said a lot of businesses are happy to see the Western New York region progressing in its reopening sequence.
“My first thought is on the health side,” Wiktor said. “We are getting a lot closer to getting past this scary virus.” Seeing the steps being taken to get to phase 2, “life is starting to fall back into some kind of new normalcy with more people getting back to work and more economic development projects.”
It’s part of the big picture of “getting people back on the streets, spending money” Wiktor said. “That trickle effect will be a great thing for Cattaraugus County. Real estate, for example, has been on hold for the past 75 days. There is some pent up demand for purchases and sales.
“We are still going to have to wear masks and practice social distancing as more businesses reopen,” Wiktor said.
The steps employers take to keep employees and customers safe will go a long way toward restoring consumer confidence, Wiktor explained. “We’ll know pretty soon hope it shakes out. There’s no easy formula.”
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)