CATSKILL — The Greene County Economic Development Corporation has launched a survey to learn from businesses what reopening the economy would be like for them.
Greene County Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Friedman encouraged businesses to be prepared.
“There has been a lot of conversations about reopening the economy, but I would caution business owners and the public on what that will look like,” he said Monday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the shutdown of nonessential businesses in New York until May 15.
“It’s likely to be a slow opening, it’s likely to be phased,” he said. “If you’re looking for a map as to how that might happen, look at how it was closed down and flip it in reverse. I caution people who think it’s going to happen quickly. Folks need to plan for well beyond May 15.”
A phased opening is critical, Friedman said.
“If we do this wrong and we get a second wave (of COVID-19) and it is as bad or worse as this wave, the impact economically will be far worse than this has been, so we have to do this right,” he said. “I’m advising people to be patient and cautious.”
The simple four-question survey will help provide the state with input as it develops a regional plan to reopen the economy, according to greenecountyedc.com. Information compiled from the surveys, which are due today, will be sent to the Empire State Development office.
“We had 30-some responses within the first 10 minutes,” Greene County Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said Monday.
The surveys were distributed to about 700 businesses in the county’s database, Linger said.
As leaders begin to lay out the framework for opening up regions of the state, they are turning to regional economic development councils for input, Linger said.
The surveys will get the regional council information on what local businesses can accomplish, Linger said.
“How do they open in some capacity and still keep people safe?” he said. “What do you think it will take for you to be able to open?”
The survey asks businesses how much time they need to reassemble employees and modify operations once restrictions are lifted, what challenges are unique or specific to their business sector [in terms of the pandemic], what percentage of their usual occupancy/customer traffic do they need to operate profitably and what percentage of their usual business comes from outside of Greene County?
“This will answer some key questions the Regional Economic Development councils are looking for,” Linger said. “We’re doing this as a proactive approach.”
“Here’s what our businesses are telling us,” Linger said. “Couple that with whatever the trends are. Maybe businesses will be open at a smaller level. At least we’ll get them up and running and get some employees back to work.”
Liam Singer, owner of Hi-Lo and Avalon Lounge, said he believes it will take more than easing restrictions to truly reopen.
“It’s going to take some serious change in the state of testing or scientific understanding for us to feel comfortable having people inside, whether or not it becomes allowed,” he said.
Avalon Lounge will continue to offer takeout and delivery and Singer said he foresees sidewalk service starting up at Hi-Lo.
“I don’t know if it will be economically viable but we will give it a try,” he said.
Both venues featured live music.
“I don’t see [live music] starting up anytime this year,” Singer said.
Once a region experiences a 14-day decline in its hospitalization rate, it can begin a phased reopening, according to governor.ny.gov.
The first phase will include construction and manufacturing sectors, followed by businesses considered to be more essential and with reduced risk of infection.
There will be two weeks between each phase to monitor its effect on hospitalization rates. Regions must also avoid opening attractions or businesses that draw a large number of visitors from other areas, according to governor.ny.gov.