County Officials: All Businesses Could Reopen In Two Months
Published: May 12th, 2020
By: Zachary Meseck

County officials: All businesses could reopen in two months According to Chenango County officials, the Southern Tier will move forward with the first phase of reopening businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, and every sequential 14 days after that it’s possible that a new phase could begin as long as coronavirus cases don’t begin to rise within the region. (Photo by Zachary Meseck)

CHENANGO COUNTY - As part of a statewide effort to reopen businesses, different regions are reopening together in phases determined both by county leaders and state representatives.

According to Chenango County Fire Coordinator Matthew Beckwith, Chenango County along with eight others will be grouped together and monitored to determine which phase of businesses are allowed to reopen.

Beckwith said the other counties include Broome, Chemung, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, and Tompkins. He said each county will have to meet 12 directives set by New York State to move through each of four different phases.

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He added that another challenge is a requirement that the region average approximately 1,500 coronavirus tests every day.

“Each phase consists of 14 days of monitoring, with three day averages of data collected throughout the process,” said Beckwith. “After 14 days, if everything is still within state guidelines then we can move on to the next phase, but it has to be region wide - not just Chenango County.”

Beckwith said New York State will allow construction, manufacturing and wholesale supply chain, and select retail with curbside pick up under its first phase which will open on May 18 in Chenango County.

He said the second phase possibly 14 days later will allow professional services, finance and insurance, retail, administrative support, and real estate services to reopen.

He added that in the same pattern, it's possible that in two more weeks restaurants, food services, hotels, and accommodation services could reopen in phase three with arts, entertainment, and recreation opening up weeks afterwards.

“Here’s the problem, If we opened everything else up, right now, and the numbers spike - we have to try to shut everything back down again. And that would be even worse,” said Beckwith. “If we follow our three day running average and we start to see a spike in throughout the region, the whole region could take a step backwards, and that is in part determined by New York State.”

He said information from Chenango County will be sent to Broome County, where it will be compiled with other counties in the region and sent to state officials who could determine that its best to shut down businesses again.

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He added that certain organizations like the court system and potentially the department of motor vehicles may need to be cleared by state representatives before they can reopen in Chenango County.

“We know how difficult this is for everyone, we have a plan in place, and we really appreciate how well everyone has followed the health guidelines in this area,” said Beckwith. “Hopefully we’ll be able to reopen safely and keep businesses open.”

Beckwith said while businesses begin to reopen, things will be different than before as social distancing guidelines will remain important moving forward.