A plan to slowly reopen New York for business will take weeks, if not months. It will be tied to falling coronavirus infection rates and hospital capacity.
And when businesses do reopen, they’ll be facing challenges.
“I think a lot of our members are definitely looking forward to getting back to work,” said Business Council President Heather Briccetti. “But it’s definitely encouraging to see it laid out.”
Unemployment in New York has sharply increased in the six weeks since the New York pause took effect, meant to slow the spread of the virus. Governor Andrew Cuomo has pegged May 15 as the reopening date, but most likely on a regional basis and for companies in sectors like construction.
“We get people are getting edgy,” said Bob Duffy, the former lieutenant governor and now the president and CEO of the Greater Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce. “People want to see everything open quickly. The governor is not going to be pushed into pressure. I give him so much credit for hanging in there based on public health.”
Duffy, who is working with Gov. Cuomo for a Finger Lakes regional reopening, says businesses need to begin planning now for a reopening.
“Prepare for opening by start creating your own plan,” Duffy said. “Those plans should have four things: provisions for face masks or coverings, social distancing, hand hygiene, and disinfecting.”
Making those changes — including providing personal protective equipment — could be expensive for smaller companies. Michael Kracker of Unshackle Upstate says the state should provide some support.
“That’s a significant cost increase to provide your employees with a constant source of PPE and to be disinfecting,” Kracker said. “So to the extent possible the state can help provide some of that assistance to small businesses, the better.”
For now, no region of the state meets the criteria as proposed by the governor for reopening.