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Glen Cove businesses react to state PAUSE act extension

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For Peter Holden, the owner of God Loves You Religious Store in downtown Glen Cove, keeping the storefront closed during Communion season hits especially hard.

“It’s a very bad situation for mom and pop shops,” said Hubbard, whose been operating his religious merchandise store for 20 years. “[The stay-at-home order was] at the end of March, then it was April 15 and now we’re in the middle of May . . . and we have bills to pay.”

Long Island's economy will remain on hold at least until the end of the month, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday extended the New York Pause stay-at-home order for the region and New York City through May 28.

The order further states that all "enforcement mechanisms" of the NY Pause Order will remain in effect through June 13, "unless later extended.

 Holden has been able to secure the Payroll Protection Program, a funding program through the federal Small Business Administration that provides relief for payroll and other utilities. However, with hardly any revenue, making personal ends meet becomes a challenge.

“It’s a small business,” Holden said. “We basically don’t make income because of the situation and how hard it is to operate a mom and pops shop today, so we get what’s left over really.”

 Purchasing gift certificates and continuing to order religious merchandise such as Communion cups and wafers, vestments, gifts and books, can greatly help his business, Holden said. But as far as the state government is concerned, Holden suggests allowing retail businesses to continue operating through curbside pickup or restricting the number of customers in the building.

 “I have family members who are very supportive but I don’t know if any other business can sustain no revenue for two months when you are small retail,” Holden said.

 The View Grill in Glen Cove, like all other restaurants in lower New York, will have to continue operating through just take-out and delivery. This meant a re-brand for an eatery like The View Grill, which prides itself on outdoor dining and its waterfront view over the Glen Cove Golf Club. The restaurant has adjusted through delivery, takeout and family specials that feed four for $28.95.

“Unfortunately, this happened,” said Jeanine DiMenna, the owner of The View Grill. “We’re making the best of it, doing what we can for our community and what we could do for ourselves in term of reinventing ourselves.”

The staff at The View Grill have been participating in an effort to feed health care workers at Glen Cove Hospital through a website called Meal Train that organizes meal donations. Meal Train was organized by local business associations including the Glen Cove Chamber of Commerce. It allows community members to pay local restaurants to provide meals for Glen Cove Hospital workers. The goal is to help both health care workers and local restaurants.

 Since The View Grill is takeout only, DiMenna said that there has been monetary savings on what would usually be required for dining, such as linens and running the dishwasher. “At this point, we are doing okay in spite of everything,” DiMenna said.

 And when lower New York begins to reopen, DiMenna said The View Grill has private dining areas and other safety precautions prepared.

The governor tweeted that five of New York's 10 regions had met the state's seven criteria for reopening as of May 15, but Long Island, one of the 10, had not. 

Among the regions that will begin the reopening process on Friday are the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Central New York.

"The others," Cuomo wrote, "can be UN-PAUSED the moment they hit their benchmarks."

"New Yorkers," he added, "be proud. Your actions bent the curve," meaning staying at home led to the current downward trend in new infections and hospitalizations after spiking in early April.

Certain "low-risk" business activities such as landscaping and gardening, as well as drive-in movie theaters, were allowed to resume statewide on Friday. Certain outdoor recreation activities like tennis were permitted also.

How reopening will play out will depend on local conditions on the ground, according to the governor. To reopen, a region must meet a set of stringent guidelines, which include:

A 14-day decline in hospitalizations.

A 14-day decline in hospital deaths.

New hospitalizations kept to under 2 per 100,000 people.

Thirty percent of hospital beds available.

Thirty percent of intensive care unit beds available.

Thirty per 1,000 residents tested for the virus.

Thirty contact tracers in place for every 100,000 residents.

Long Island currently meets five of the seven criteria. It falls short on two — 14-day decline in hospital deaths and new hospitalizations under 2 per 100,000 — and like all other regions in the state, it is expected to have a sufficient number of contact tracers in place by the time it opens. 

For regions that meet the state's criteria, reopening is to begin cautiously, the governor said, and will play out over the coming weeks in four stages:

Phase One: Construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, select retail for curbside pickup only, and agriculture, forestry and fishing.

Phase Two: Professional services, finance and insurance, retail, administrative support, and real estate, rental and leasing. 

Phase Three: Restaurants and food services, beyond takeout and delivery.

Phase Four: Arts, entertainment and recreation, and education.

The state, Cuomo said, has created a New York Forward Reopening Advisory Board to help guide the reopening process.