CHENANGO – On Monday, May 11 Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Southern Tier has met the seven required metrics to begin its un-PAUSE, starting this Friday May 15th. This is a big relief for the businesses who operate in the Southern Tier region, and here in Chenango County this means businesses can get ready to start phasing in. It is important for our businesses and community members to understand that this is not a regional reopening for all businesses. The plan that the Governor has laid out strategically begins to allow sectors and industries to begin calling their employees back to work, and will begin stirring up our local economy. The phase-in plan prioritizes businesses considered to have a greater economic impact and low risks of infection for the workers and customers, followed by other businesses considered to have less economic impact, and those that present a higher risk of infection spread. By phasing in, the regional control groups can monitor the progress, track any rise in cases or hospitalizations and be ready to slow down the reopening, if needed.
Who can begin operating again this Friday? Phase one industries include construction, manufacturing, retail (curbside pickup only), wholesale trade, and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting. If you feel that your business fits into phase one, I encourage you to please review the detailed breakdown of each of these sectors on the Governor’s “New York Forward” website; those details can be found at https://forward.ny.gov/industries-reopening-phase.
The first step to reopening is making sure your organization is in the correct phase. Once you confirm this, each business will need to self-certify that they are meeting all of the guidelines and standards to have their employees back, and resume operations. This will be done through an online portal that the state will set up (we are being told this should be up before Friday, May 15th). Businesses will need to register, and confirm that they have taken appropriate safety measures to protect their employees and customers. Detailed guidance on these safety measures are still being developed, but you can start by looking at three areas:
Employees and customers: which includes possibly making adjustments to workplace hours and shift design to reduce density in the workplace, making sure social distancing protocols are in place and restricting non-essential travel for your employees.
Physical workspace: This includes requiring all customers and employees to wear a mask if they are in frequent close contact with others, and making sure you implement strict cleaning and sanitation standards throughout your physical workspace.
Policies and practices: The final area that businesses should be reviewing is policies and practices that will meet our current health obligations. This includes screening of employees, reporting confirmed positive cases and making sure your human resource policies reflect our current environment.
I encourage you to watch the governor’s daily briefing for the latest information, and stay in touch with local officials if you have questions or concerns. This week, Governor Cuomo announced the start of regional “control rooms”, and Chenango County businesses will be represented by Commerce Chenango. We are working closely with our county officials at the Chenango County Department of Public Health, and Chenango County Emergency Management services to ensure that we have the latest information and are being consistent with our messaging.
To that effect, I would like to invite you to participate in a free webinar at 2 p.m., Friday, May 15. The topic is “Reopening Guidelines and Strategies” and this is specifically for businesses and individuals who want to understand the reopening guidelines and criteria. There will be time for questions from area businesses at the end of the presentation. We are pleased to have representation from Empire State Development who will be able to help answer any questions you may have. To register for this event, please send us an email to email@example.com. The session will be recorded and shared via social media on Friday afternoon.
This is an exciting step for Chenango County and as long as we continue to practice health and safety guidelines, and follow the reopen plan as laid out by the state, we will continue to move forward, together.
If you have any questions, please call my office at (607) 334-1400 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Commerce Chenango President & CEO Kerri Green