Freeport Village leaders gathered at the Nautical Mile today to ring in the start of Phase Three of reopening.
“We’ve been through one the hardest economical and emotional times in recent history,” Mayor Robert Kennedy said. “But I’m glad that our businesses on our Nautical Mile can reopen, and I welcome everyone to come down here during the summer to support our businesses.”
During Phase Three, restaurants will be permitted to open for indoor, in-person dining at 50 percent capacity, provided employees and patrons wear masks and tables are spaced six feet apart, with no more than 10 people per table.
Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s guidance, personal services — including spas and tattoo parlors — will also be allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity, but waiting rooms must remain closed.
Jenny Jorge, president of the Freeport Chamber of Commerce, said the pandemic has been especially hard on Freeport, which depends on spring and summer tourism to bolster its economy as many businesses close down for the winter.
She said that while some businesses are currently struggling, she hopes a steady stream of summer tourists will help them get by.
“It’s important that we go to local restaurants and shop at our mom-and-pop stores because they’re the heart of our village,” Jorge said.
While the village hopes for a successful reopening of the Nautical Mile, village officials urged residents and business owners to follow proper safety protocol when shopping and dining at the Mile.
Kennedy and Freeport Police Lt. Carl Hetzel said that there would be extra police presence on the Nautical Mile to make sure regulations are being followed. Officers will also be handing out free masks to residents and non-residents who do not have one.
Village Attorney Howard Colton said that those not following regulation could be charged with disorderly conduct and have to pay a $2,500 fine.
Hetzel added that restaurants and bars who break regulations could lose their liquor license as Freeport Police reports violations to the State Liquor Authority. There have been at least two instances of this happening prior to Phase Three.
“I’m confident we can maintain safety here,” Kennedy said. “We used to have 20 Covid-19 cases a day, and now we’re down to only two in the past 14 days. We rebuilt after Sandy, and we’ll rebuild again after Covid-19.”