Small businesses look forward to entering Phase 3
New York City entered Phase 3 of business reopening Monday, which allows for personal care services such as nail salons and tattoo parlors and outdoor recreational activities to resume operations, but, unlike other areas throughout the state, does not allow for indoor dining.
“New York City is a crowded, dense urban area and — until recently — was the global epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis,” Gov. Cuomo said in a July 5 statement. “Out of an abundance of caution and after seeing other states’ experiences with indoor dining, we will wait to reopen it as the city moves to Phase Three [Monday].”
Nail, tanning and waxing salons, massage, tattoo and piercing parlors and spas have opened as part of Phase 3, but must limit their employee and customer capacity to 50 percent of the maximum occupancy. Additionally, customers and employees are required to wear masks and keep a 6-foot distance when possible, and hygienic and disinfectant practices must be ramped up.
Beaches opened for swimming July 1, but Phase 3 allows for soccer fields, outdoor basketball, tennis, volleyball, bocce and handball courts and dog runs to reopen to the public on July 6. Competitive team practices, meets and tournaments remain prohibited.
Small businesses across the city have long awaited reopening to make up for the losses over the past few months, but John Choe, executive director of the Flushing Chamber of Commerce, said that small businesses in the heavily Asian neighborhood are suffering a “double whammy.”
“The businesses have suffered greatly during the pandemic, even before when Flushing was being scapegoated and being profiled as a center of infection when in fact Flushing has had some of the lowest rates and deaths in the city,” said Choe. “We’re recovering from a general decline in business, but also as a stereotype as a vector of the disease … we had The New York Times and the New York Post print photographs of Flushing when the stories were about people being infected in Manhattan. We have to redouble our efforts to promote Flushing as a safe and diverse community where people can enjoy culture from around the world.”
To entice shoppers to return to area establishments, the Flushing Chamber of Commerce has been working with small businesses to increase their marketing capacity through social media and video creation. The chamber has also been assisting with loan and grant applications, but Choe said that pushing local leaders to implement rent and mortgage moratoriums as well as other relief measures is necessary for small businesses to make a successful comeback.
“We need to be actively engaged and put the pressure on our elected officials,” said Choe.
Cuomo did not announce when indoor dining would resume, but noted a few days earlier that it would remain postponed “until the facts change and it is prudent to open.”
Although restaurants are limited to outdoor services in addition to takeout and delivery, Mayor de Blasio combined the Open Streets and Open Restaurants programs in 10 to 20 corridors across the city to allow for more outdoor seating on closed off streets until Labor Day. Only two in Queens have been named so far and they’re both in the Bayside Village Business Improvement District — along Bell Boulevard from 39th Avenue to 41st Avenue and 41st Avenue from Bell Boulevard to 214th Place.
“We’re still waiting to hear if any open streets would be implemented in Flushing,” said Choe. “The unfortunate part of the pandemic is that it’s still ongoing, and the indoor dining has been postponed, so that means that one way to support area businesses is to still do takeout and delivery … That’s the only way they’ve been able to survive.”