The North Country will begin phase 1 of reopening its economy Friday, but not without careful planning and regulations. Governor Andrew Cuomo said the region has reached the 7 health-related criteria.
Manufacturing, construction, and agriculture are among the first industries to reopen, but in Plattsburgh, many of those were already considered essential business. Officials say it will provide an opportunity for small retailers who were unable to open at all, to open on a limited basis.
“Each business has to post a plan, and produce a plan on how they’re going to obtain safe social distancing, their policies for wearing masks,” said Mayor Colin Read. “It’s a pretty elaborate checklist that each one of them has to follow and tailor to their own individual policy.”
The North Country Chamber of Commerce is offering free educational programming to help businesses in various industries make a plan to outline how they’ll operate safely.
“We had 800 area businesses go through this training just yesterday,” said Chamber of Commerce president, Gary Douglas.
Douglas said that shows local businesses want to do things right. Phase 1 will allow non essential retail to open for curbside pick-up only or delivery, something he says is good news for local stores who couldn’t provide that service while big box competitors were seeing a surge.
“Their local businesses who they may have migrated away from for the last couple of months, may have gone to click on something on Amazon to order,” Douglas said. “Go back now to supporting these local family businesses, particularly the small businesses because they’re fragile they’ve taken a hit, and they need support and help.”
There is no set schedule for moving on to phase 2, but officials estimate 2-3 weeks between each phase as long as guidelines are followed.
“It gives time to see how it’s working, see if more people are gonna be infected, test for those additional individuals, and see if we’ve gotten a green light or a red light,” Mayor Read said.
Phase 2 will include the opening of more retail stores as well as professional services like hair salons.