By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Though Phase One of “un-PAUSE” is limited to construction, manufacturing and curbside retail, Al Rubin, chair, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce Board, wants to make sure all businesses are ready to begin the process of rebuilding the local economy.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “Now is the time for innovation and creativity. Now is not the time to be shy. We need to be sharing all these ideas.”
This afternoon, county board Chairman David Bliss announced that Otsego County businesses and industry have been included in Phase One of the state’s reopening from the COVID-19 lockdown, effective this Friday, May 15.
The metrics for re-opening included a 14-day streak of declines in hospitalizations and deaths, numbers of tests being done and adding contact tracers.
“I felt confident that we would hit all seven metrics for reopening,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh. “And it feels good that we did.”
Construction, manufacturing and wholesale supply can resume, and retail can re-open for curbside pickup.
“It’s limited, but it’s progress,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “Progress is good, but caution is good too.”
Social distancing and mask requirements remain in place, and businesses must have a plan for these initiatives – including providing PPE – in order to reopen.
“I’ve been directing companies to the Empire State Development’s website to help them get their plans in place,” said Barbara Ann Heegan, president, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce.
“We want to engage our business community, but it has to be safe and methodical,” said Rubin. “Those are the two key components.”
“It’s not a blanket re-opening,” said Tillapaugh. “But if we can get through 14 days without any of those metrics changing, we can move to Phase Two.”
If the Mohawk Valley maintains the metrics for 14 days, she said, Phase Two can be implemented, which includes openings of retail, professional offices and real estate. Phase Three will open restaurants and hotel accommodations, and Phase Four will open recreational facilities, including beaches.