It is nice to see Pondfield Road and Palmer Avenue come back to a semblance of their former bustling selves as we are now in Phase 1 of the Governor’s reopening plan for the Hudson Valley Region.
Phase 1 includes delivery curbside and in-store pick up service for the following businesses: clothing stores, electronics and appliance stores, furniture and home furnishings stores, florists, general merchandise stores, health and personal care stores, jewelry, leather goods and luggage stores, lawn and garden equipment and supply stores, office supplies, stationary and gift stores, used merchandise, shoe stores, sporting goods and hobby stores, musical instrument stores and bookstores.
The rules governing the reopening of the above stores include ensuring that the six foot distance between workforce personnel is adhered to with a minimal amount of employees necessary to conduct curbside and in-store pick up activities. At no time can the store have more than 50% of maximum occupancy. Store owners must carry out regular cleaning and disinfecting procedures and maintain a continuous log of those working at the establishment. There can be no shared food and beverages at any time. Employees should be wearing facemasks if they cannot adhere to a 6 foot distancing and shopkeepers can require customers entering their stores to wear a face mask. Social distancing markers such as tape or signs that denote six feet of spacing must be placed in commonly used areas such as near the cash registers. Ideally, store owners should encourage customers to use touchless payment options or pay ahead and bring no one extra to the store besides themselves while transacting business. Suggested best practices include staggering merchandise retrieval and pick up areas should be arranged to maximize social distancing preferably with the customer staying in their car. Hand hygiene products must be available at all times for customers and employees.
Unfortunately, cutting, coloring and styling hair are projected to be in Phase 2, not Phase 1 and eyebrow waxing, beard trimming, nail services , make up applications and facials do not even make it in Phase 2 rather, relegated to Phase 3.
In-store retail shopping and real estate transactions are also part of Phase 2. Much like the rules for retail stores, the state will also limit salons and barbershops upon reopening to 50% of their usual maximum capacity. As a footnote, I have no understanding why, for example, eyebrows cannot be waxed until Phase 3 but dental offices are now open for deep cleanings which we all know are fraught with a great deal of bacteria transfer. But we must follow the rules, even when logic escapes.
Of great relief and importance to many is the opening up of non-essential construction business. If you have a project that you would like to start in the village, feel free to call our building department and we will work with you to get things underway. Again projects at your home will have to abide by the physical distancing between personnel unless safety or a core function of the work activity requires a shorter distance and then facemasks will be required. As a reminder, new playground equipment or above ground pools also require Village permits as they are subject to setback requirements both from the right of way and neighboring properties.
In a related industry response, Open Table did a survey and believes that 25% of all the restaurants using their site may never reopen, being the victims of razor thin margins even during the best of times.
The National Restaurant Association reported that its members lost $30 billion in March and $50 billion in April representing staggering losses for an industry that employed about 12 million people before the Covid19 outbreak. Now the challenge is to provide a happy medium between safety precautions and yet creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The following scenario may very well be typical of your next sit down restaurant dining experience. You will make a reservation in advance and maybe even pre-order your meal, will be seated at a table with hand sanitizer and distance from your fellow diners, your waiter will come to your table as infrequently as possible to be helpful and he or she will most likely be wearing a mask. We will be ordering off of single use menus and we will be afforded hand sanitizing opportunities and individually packed condiments. The opportunities for outdoor dining will prove to be crucial.
To that end, we are working with every one of our merchants who reach out to us for assistance and we will be offering outdoor Village spaces, be it road closures or parking spaces, to help maximize the area in which to achieve a profitable number of customers. We are partners with everyone in the Village to ensure success to those who have been generous to us as residents for decades.