So many businesses have so many questions as regions of the state start reopening.

The Rochester Chamber of Commerce held a webinar Friday morning to help them navigate this new world safely.

Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy said there were 500 participants in the Chamber's Friday morning webinar about Reopening Rochester and the Finger Lakes. And there were hundreds more who couldn't get in.

What You Need To Know

  • Hundreds participated in a webinar Friday morning with the Rochester Chamber of Commerce.
  • Questions ranged from how businesses should reopen safely to the future of large public gatherings.
  • Businesses must have a safety plan in place to reopen, but are not required to submit it for approval.

Dr. Mike Mendoza, Monroe County commissioner of Public Health, started with charts, explaining that our numbers are moving in the right direction.

"We're in the point right now of Phase One deceleration," Mendoza said. "Phase One reopening is construction and manufacturing. This is just the first step. We need to look at the next weeks and months frankly, with a lot of pause, a lot of thoughtfulness, because we cannot reopen too quickly."

Many businesses had many questions about just how to reopen safely. Guidelines are online on how to do that, including a safety template to follow.

"All businesses are required to have a safety plan to operate, however they are not required to submit it for approval. And that's an important distinction," said Vinnie Esposito, Empire State Development, Finger Lakes regional director.

New York is still On Pause, and local leaders do not determine when we move on to Phase Two or what businesses are a part of it. 

"Those come from the governor," said Duffy. "I would not guess on a date or type yet. It depends on how the metrics go as we roll out Phase One."

Businesses also had questions about child care when returning to work —  the county says it has resources.

About travel restrictions — there are none.

About when dental offices will reopen  — no date yet, emergencies only.

And whether employees should be expected to wear masks when returning to work.

"We should plan on using masks whether it's part of an executive order or not. It's best practice," said Mendoza.

Some of the final questions were about events, everything from weddings to sports games to religious services

Leaders were clear...

"It's very safe to say that large gatherings of people are going to be the very last thing we'll be having again as a society, regardless of the phases of the NY Forward plan," said Esposito.

While the rate of reopening may be disappointing to some, Duffy says it's all in an effort to not undo the hard work we've done already.

"We get the pain. We get the anxiety people have. We want people to open and get back to business as soon as we can. But we have to do it safely and we're going to follow these phases."