November 28, 2021

CNY set to enter Phase 2 of business reopening

Metro Creative Connection

Expect retail stores, real estate businesses, the 1,600-job professional services sector, administrative support and real estate businesses to reopen Friday as Central New York continues its reopening process.

Cortland County is expected to move forward with Phase 2 of the four-phase effort after experiencing no noticeable spikes in COVID-19 cases, county Legislature Chairman Paul Heider said Wednesday.

“There’s no reason to believe we will not be reopening,” said Heider (R-Cuyler, Solon, Truxton). “We’ve met all the metrics that the state asked us to meet as far as testing.”

Cortland County began reopening two weeks ago with Phase 1, which included manufacturing, construction, agriculture and retail in curbside or in-store pick up.

Phase 2 will include professional services, retail, administrative support and real estate, including rental and leasing.

Garry Van Gorder, the executive director of the Cortland County Business Development Corp. and Industrial Development Agency, said his and other agencies are continuing to inform businesses about reopening “with a focus being on their need to review state reopening guidelines and certifying that they have been read and understood.”

“All businesses must have a written safety business plan on the premises,” he said. “They do not need to be submitted to any particular agency, but should be available if asked by local health and other officials.”

Heider said the county is also focusing on getting the state’s approval to open outdoor seating for restaurants. “We’re asking them (restaurants) to start working on plans with their municipalities,” he said.

Phyllis Haskell, co-owner of Bob’s Barbecue in Homer, said she would like to open up for outdoor seating. At the moment, the Route 281 barbecue pit offers only take-out service.

“It’s really interesting the amount of people who have called to inquire about sitting out there,” she said. “We definitely want to open and we have lots of space. We can do the social distancing thing and we can even do it in the pavilions.”

Van Gorder said his sense is that many of the businesses do want to reopen.

“This has been crippling for small businesses across the nation, and those in Cortland County have not been spared,” he said. “A successful reopening must be mindful of following safety protocols, but there is a great deal of frustration here about the very slow unwind in light of the few cases we have experienced so far.”

“Cortland County and upstate New York were painted with a Metro New York brush with respect to the shutdowns, and the recovery for us will be a long one,” he added. “Getting to Phase 2 is an important milestone.”