Poll: 94% say face coverings are necessary

Courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office/File photoGov. Andrew Cuomo reveals a wall of several hundred masks Americans from across the nation have mailed to help New York. Nearly 95% of respondents to a consumer survey in Hudson said wearing face masks in public is the most important way to ward off the coronavirus as stay-at-home restrictions are lifted in New York state.

HUDSON — More than 90% of respondents said wearing masks or other face coverings in public is necessary to protect their health and the health of others, according to a city business survey.

As the Capital Region works to progress to the next phase of the NY Forward reopening plan, the Hudson Development Corporation is focused, in part, on consumers.

The Reimagine Hudson Hospitality Task Force created a consumer sentiment survey to gauge the economic impact COVID-19 has on changes in local spending habits and attitudes toward returning to local businesses after they reopen.

The survey collected 212 responses between May 7 and May 21, 85% of which are full-time area residents, answering questions on a variety of topics related to dining, shopping and short-term lodging.

More than 60% of responses were from consumers age 55 and older, who are categorized as high risk for COVID-19.

The survey began with learning about consumers’ pre-COVID-19 spending habits.

The survey compares how often consumers patronized local bars and restaurants, and how much consumers spent on average before the pandemic compared to their spending habits during the outbreak.

The Hudson Tourism Board at its last meeting discussed local tourism during the initial economic recovery period. Notably, 95.7% of consumers surveyed said their household has access to a car.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s latest executive order allows businesses to refuse service to customers who are not wearing a mask or face covering.

“When we’re talking about reopening stores and places of businesses, the store owner has a right to protect themselves and to protect the other patrons,” Cuomo said Thursday at the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club. “You don’t want to wear a mask? Fine. But you don’t have the constitutional right to jeopardize others.”

Of those surveyed, 94.8% believe that wearing masks in public places is necessary and feel strict standards for sanitizing are crucial to feel confident in shopping and dining.

Restaurants with the option to provide outdoor seating could have a leg up when enforcing social distancing, as 77.8% of respondents feel it is important to maintain distance when they return to restaurants.

But the data show consumers are making meals at home and plan to eat out less often, and plan to continue ordering take-out after the health crisis ends.

Many of Hudson’s restaurants have shifted to take-out or delivery options to remain open for the duration of the crisis.

When asked how often they would dine out at Hudson restaurants when the stay-at-home order is lifted, 27.5% said less than once a month, while 23.7% responded about once a week. Less than 2% said they would dine at a restaurant every day.

Nearly 70% surveyed said they would feel more comfortable patronizing local establishments if they could be served in an outdoor space, and about 90% said they will shop locally to support small businesses as a priority.

The COVID-19 impact on income is directly correlated with the purchase power during the crisis and post-PAUSE, data show.

Nearly 50% said COVID-19 has negatively affected their income in a way that will change how they patronize local businesses.

Hotels could see a slower return, as most respondents do not intend to host guests outside of their homes for the remainder of the year.

While some will welcome out-of-town guests into their homes often, almost nobody responded that they would often host guests at local hotels or short-term rentals, with more than 100 responding they would never use these types of lodging for guests this year.

Hudson has a six-month moratorium in place on new short-term rentals.

The Hudson Business Coalition’s Alex Petraglia and Hudson resident John Kane assisted in creating the 36-question survey, HDC Executive Director Branda Maholtz said.

The Hospitality Committee of the HDC’s Emergency Task Force will use this data to guide future action and facilitate the exchange of information, ideas and resources to help local business and hospitality industries as they plan to reopen.

The HDC created the Emergency Business Task Force in March with four subcommittees: business, hospitality, quality of life and culture. It launched a new website, reimaginehudson.com, to share information about the task force’s work.

Complete results of the survey can be viewed at reimaginehudson.com.

Abby Hoover is a reporter for the Register-Star. Contact her at ahoover@registerstar.com.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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