With New York’s Capital Region under Phase One of reopening, officials are busy preparing for the second round. But many unknowns remain.
On Wednesday the Capital Region entered Phase One of reopening after Governor Andrew Cuomo’s PAUSE order was lifted. Construction, manufacturing, and agriculture were among the sectors allowed to reopen, while taking necessary precautions to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
On a ZOOM call with local officials and business owners, Pete Bardunias of the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce said the state has issued appropriate guidance for the first phase, but the future remains unclear.
“Phase One guidelines are out there and businesses are complying. Phase Two, Three, Four, the information is just not there,” said Bardunias.
The Chamber, along with other economic development agencies, has collected reopening guidelines on its website.
Phase Two will begin two weeks after Phase One, depending on the prevalence of COVID-19. The second phase includes hair salons, but stylists are still unsure what restrictions will need to be in place.
Staci Massaro owns Platinum Studio, a hair salon in Clifton Park.
“I have a six chair salon in Clifton Park and a whole staff. So knowing ahead of time exactly if we’re going to be at 50 percent, or 25 percent so that we can get our schedules ready and just get…have a better idea to let everybody know what we can accommodate and what we can’t when Phase Two actually starts,” said Massaro.
Massaro said she believes her 1,500 square foot salon should provide adequate space for customers and staff to remain socially distanced.
But there’s also the question of PPE. Clifton Park town supervisor Phil Barrett says he anticipates there will be a rise in demand for protective equipment as more businesses open over the next several weeks.
“And then we’re going to get into the fall and we’re not sure what will occur at the point. So I think that the demand is going to be strong for a long period of time,” said Barrett.
To meet the expected demand, the town and the Clifton Park IDA have partnered to amass masks. Residents who need masks can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
At the end of June, the Small Businesses Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program is scheduled to expire.
Right now, the eight-week loans can be forgiven if 75 percent is used for payroll, the remaining 25 percent for rent and utilities.
Steve Bulger, SBA Regional Administrator, said $100 billion in funding is still available in the second round of PPP loans. The program’s shaky beginnings included long waits and confusion among borrowers. But Bulger said he expects some changes to the program to take place, as members of Congress and the Treasury Department seek to make some adjustments.
“There are potentially going to be some changes to this program, sooner rather than later, in terms of the 75 percent amount or perhaps the eight weeks, we don’t know. But I would say stay tuned, there could be some changes coming in terms of the forgiveness piece,” said Bulger.