Although they don’t know the specific details and conditions or even a definitive date on which businesses in New York will be permitted to reopen, members of the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce want their community to be prepared.
“There are so many different factors that go into opening up again,” said Ted Rosenthal, founder of the law firm Rosenthal, Curry & Kranz. He recently launched a chamber committee that will focus on post-pandemic efforts with Jim Skinner, owner of A&C Pest Management.
The committee also includes Skinner’s son James, also of A&C, and Richie Krug Jr. and Tom and Lyndsey Gallagher, all of Century 21 American Homes. The group had its first meeting with the chamber’s board of directors on April 29.
“The support that the chamber board is giving us is phenomenal,” Rosenthal said, adding that board and committee members had been bouncing ideas back and forth since the meeting.
“Some people want to go shopping and go to restaurants, but there are going to be people who are fearful,” Rosenthal said. “Our committee is to help all businesses come up with a plan so that people can come in and feel comfortable.”
Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stay-at-home order extends only until May 15, and there has been no announcement of what might follow it, reopening is not going to happen overnight, Rosenthal noted. A restaurant is going to have a different experience than a gym or a salon, he explained. “Each should contemplate what they need going forward,” he said. “We’re here to help them discuss what they may need to do.”
One of the committee’s ideas is to create “reopening kits” for business owners. They will include necessary supplies to keep employees and patrons safe and healthy, including face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
Rosenthal has fielded a number of questions from business owners that he and other committee members are still mulling. Which businesses are at the beginning stages of reopening, and which are ready to resume operations? What limitations might be imposed on patron capacity? Will restaurants have the space and viability to open and make a profit?
One proposal that left Rosenthal incredulous was first made by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on April 20. De Blasio suggested mandating that business owners check their employees’ temperatures before admitting them to work, given the fact that a fever is one of the most predictable symptoms of Covid-19.
Since then, Rosenthal said, he has seen the idea grow into a suggested mandate that businesses check the temperatures of all patrons before admitting them. “I would not be in favor of us instituting that, and that’s a personal opinion,” he said. “These businesses have been closed for the past two months. We want to get them back on their feet, and it would be very difficult, in addition, if they had to monitor who could come in and who cannot . . . I would hope people would respect other patrons and owners, and if they’re not well, they would not go out. And I think for the most part, they are. And that’s why we’re on this downward curve, because people are taking it seriously.”
On May 13, the chamber will host a virtual general meeting on Zoom to outline its plans, provide updates and invite members to ask questions or address concerns going forward.
“Our last Zoom meeting had 39 members join in, and it was great to see so many faces,” Chamber President Michael Levy said.
Business owners are invited to direct any question they have on reopening to the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Levy added that business owners should contact chamber member Jerry Baldassaro, owner of Raymour and Flanigan, at email@example.com, when they know more about their reopening status. Baldassaro will post information on the chamber’s website and social media pages to let community members know what to expect from business they intend to patronize.
“It may be devastating,” Levy said, “but we’re going to survive, and make this work, and resume life.”