After nearly three months of being closed as part of a statewide lockdown, businesses in Malverne and West Hempstead are itching to get back to work. West Hempstead Chamber of Commerce President Marshall Myers said that once more businesses reopen during Phase Two of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reopening plan, getting local support will become more vital than ever.
“The dust still hasn’t settled, but I have a feeling that some of the small businesses aren’t going to survive,” Myers said. “Those that remain need support from local residents. Hopefully, they’ve been able to get enough assistance to last this long. I’m hoping that with local support, they’ll be able to carry on.”
Long Island’s Phase Two reopening, which was set to start on Wednesday, included office-based work; real estate services; in-store sales; vehicle sales, leases and rentals; retail rental, repair and cleaning; and commercial building management.
Myers, who is a real estate agent, said that many businesses like his thrive on face-to-face interaction. While some people have been able to work from home during the pandemic, he added, businesses like real estate cannot survive that way.
“Real estate is a contact sport,” Myers said. “Being able to actually see the home in person and the size of the rooms, you can’t do that virtually.”
The updated reopening timeline is the result of a continued drop in new coronavirus hospitalizations, intubations and deaths, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. When he announced on June 5 that barbershops and hair salons would be included in the Phase Two reopening, several local hair stylists said they were excited about returning to work.
Deirdre Bell, owner of Hair By Deirdre, in Malverne, said she and her coworkers started preparing things at the salon last Friday. “We’ve had customers who have been with us for 30-some-odd years,” Bell said. “I just miss seeing my customers, so we can’t wait to see them again.”
She added that she had been calling her clients periodically to maintain relationships during the lockdown.
Maryann Godberson, owner of Marcucc for Hair, in Malverne, also said she looked forward to seeing her clients again. While everyone would be wearing masks and giving one another air hugs, she said, being in their company would matter the most.
“We want to make people feel good again,” Godberson said. “Malverne is such an awesome town and the people are so supportive. I’m so grateful for our community and our clients, because they’re the reason we can reopen.”
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran called the planned opening of barbershops and hair salons “great news,” and said that Cuomo’s order allowing it gives “our business owners the certainty they need to reopen safely.”
A big question on many county residents’ minds has been, when will restaurants reopen for dining? Currently, only takeout and curbside pickup are allowed. In-person dining will resume with the Phase Three reopening, which is scheduled to begin in Nassau on June 24, if the number of hospitalizations and deaths in the county remain steady or continue to drop.
Curran said she was planning for restaurants’ reopening. On Friday, she announced a plan to allow villages, towns and cities to shut down certain streets to facilitate al fresco dining while reducing the need for tables inside eateries, enabling them to maintain social distancing. She called the initiative “Open Streets.”
“Continuing the county’s efforts to support the revival of our downtowns and business districts,” the county website reads, “the county will be fast-tracking permitting approvals for temporary road closures, with a decision within a week of receiving an application.” To apply, visit www.nassacountyny.gov/OpenStreets.
The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency is spending roughly $500,000 to provide 1,000 small businesses and nonprofits with personal protective equipment. Businesses with fewer than 20 employees, minority- and women-owned businesses and those in economically distressed communities are eligible for the program. Businesses can apply at www.nassauboost.net.
All Nassau County businesses must, by state mandate, prepare reopening plans, detailing how they intend to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus and ensure the safety of workers and customers. The plans must include wellness checks for employees and customers; disinfection and cleaning routines; social distancing protocols; and PPE supplies for employees and customers. Businesses must also affirm to the state that they agree to operate according to state safety mandates.