Long Island entered the Phase One reopening of its battered economy on Wednesday and, that night, the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce met with dozens of business owners and residents for its third virtual “town hall” to detail what the reopening process will look like in East Meadow.
“The reality is that, while we open today, it’s just the beginning,” said Ted Rosenthal, founder of the law firm Rosenthal, Curry & Kranz. He and Jim Skinner, owner of A&C Pest Management, co-chair a chamber committee dedicated to post-pandemic efforts.
“We need to be ready and willing and able,” he said. “We’ll hopefully overcome what we’ve had to deal with for the past few months and, as a chamber, we’re gonna find a way to make East Meadow a place everyone wants to visit again.”
To celebrate emerging from the pandemic, the committee will be lining a portion of Front Street with American flags. “If you have a flag, put it in your window,” Skinner said. “Let everybody know that you’re open for business.”
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.
Once it reopens, each chamber business will receive “reopening kits” that include necessary supplies to keep employees and patrons safe and healthy, including facemasks, gloves, hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
The committee will also be giving out a total of $5,000 through a contest to incentivize shopping at chamber businesses. Anyone who patronizes member businesses will receive five points for every $20 spent and points could be redeemed for a chance to win cash and prizes.
Also at the chamber’s virtual meeting on May 27 was Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who answered questions from attendees about the reopening process. She also assured that, if Long Island stays on track, each phase of reopening should last two weeks before the next.
In hearing of the chamber’s reopening committee, she said, “it proves that business owners are problem solvers and it gives me optimism that we can come back stronger.”
Wednesday meant the green light for construction and wholesale trade companies to restart operations, along with retailers for curbside pickup only.
The reopening of the Long Island economy will play out by region in three distinct phases hereafter:
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.
If the number of deaths, hospitalizations and new Covid-19 cases remains stable or declines for two weeks, a region can move on to the next phase of reopening.
"As more regions of the state begin reopening," Cuomo tweeted Tuesday, "we are carefully monitoring health data to make sure that everything is going in the right direction. We rely on science and data to guide us — not emotion or politics."
Only New York City remains to start Phase One among the state's 10 regions. It was unclear, however, when the city would be able to begin. As of May 24, it had met four of the seven criteria. It did not have enough available hospital beds and intensive care beds, and needed more contact tracers.
Also of concern, the governor said, New York City was still seeing especially high Covid-19 infection rates in minority neighborhoods — at times as high has 40 percent, compared to the city-wide average of 20 percent.
Cuomo emphasized that personal behavior will determine the success — or failure — of the reopening process. "The trajectory," he said Tuesday, "is decided by people."
He repeated that people should:
Wear masks in public spaces.
Wash hands frequently.
Maintain social distance.
"We want [the] economy to come roaring back," he said.