As Phase 4 begins, let’s focus on keeping businesses open

On Tuesday June 30th, Western New York entered the final phase of the four-stage reopening plan known as New York Forward. Significant steps have been taken in reopening the economy as businesses fight hard to navigate the impact of COVID-19. Yet, this remains a challenging time for most businesses as some remain closed and others are not running at full capacity. Some businesses have experienced a reduction in demand for their products, a result of a slowed economy. In the meantime, we are all still adjusting to a new normal. A portion of the population remains working from home and unfortunately a significant percentage of the population is out of work. So, what lies ahead?

We don’t have a crystal ball, but we can be fairly certain that New York State must remain on its current track for reducing the transmission of COVID-19 in order for businesses to continue to operate. Some states are seeing a, significant increases in COVID-19 cases. This trend is slowing down, and in some cases reversing reopening timelines. Businesses that were previously opened in these states are having to close. New York State has not had to and does not want to head in that direction. Our objective is always to work on behalf of the business community, so to assist in every way possible we will continue to urge people to behave responsibly and follow the rules. Social distancing and wearing a face covering have been demonstrated to help stop the spread of the disease. To support our local businesses and keep our economy open we hope everyone will conduct themselves accordingly.

Phase Four is the final stage of the reopening plan, but it does not include some types of businesses such as shopping malls and gyms. The Governor this week announced new criteria for malls which is centered on air handling systems that have filters with a high Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value to help reduce the presence of the virus in the air. Other specific types of businesses that are high contact or high traffic will likely face similar requirements. We expect that guidance will be issued in the weeks ahead.

This remains a challenging time for all of us. We have been asked to significantly adjust our behavior to protect our family, friends, neighbors, businesses, and community. It is no easy task, but as Americans we have always been able to rise to the challenges before us. On this Fourth of July weekend we urge you to do two things. Support our small local businesses and celebrate safely. Enjoy our beautiful parks, beaches, waterways, and hiking trails. Here in Chautauqua County we are surrounded by scenic beauty and plentiful opportunities to enjoy nature. We wish you a safe, happy, and healthy Independence Day!


All businesses that have reopened in New York State are required to affirm the state guidelines and maintain a printed copy of their business safety plan on their premises. As part of the state guidance for reopening, the state has reserved the right to change the requirements from time to time and it is the businesses responsibility to stay on top of those changes. There have been some updates to the guidance as language has been strengthened. Additionally, as situations have changed guidance updates have been performed. There are additional new requirements for: Indoor and Outdoor Food Service; Personal Care Services; Office-Based Work; Real Estate Services; Retail, Motor Vehicle Sales; Retail Rental, Repair and Cleaning; Commercial Buildings; Hair Salons and Barber Shops; Dentistry; and Public Transportation. Many of these changes require additional separation policies for employees or customers and maintaining health records for employees. For Child Care and Day Camps groups have been limited to no more than 10 children or campers per staff unit and specifically bars the sharing of food and beverages. All businesses should review, again, the requirements for their respective operation and be sure to adhere to the updated guidance.


Each year the Chamber of Commerce provides an opportunity to meet with our Congressman. This year that event will be held online at 8:30am, Thursday, July 16. Representative Tom Reed will be our guest and will answer questions from the audience.

We encourage all participants to get up and get out and pick up some breakfast or coffee from your favorite local restaurant, then join us online beginning promptly at 8:30am. You may attend for free, but we are also providing a registration option for a donation to the Chamber of Commerce if you are so inclined. Not unlike many businesses in our community COVID-19 has had a financial impact on our organization, so your donation is greatly appreciated.

The Congressional Breakfast is sponsored by Advanced Manufacturing Technology, Jamestown Mattress Company, Law Offices of Sheila Starkey Hahn, Media One Radio Group, OBSERVER, The Post-Journal, University Advancement at the State University of New York at Fredonia, and UPMC Chautauqua. You may register online through the events calendar at www.chautauquachamber.org.


For more than three months the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier have been holding online gatherings each week with our local business community. These Monday web conferences began as a sounding board where we could all discuss relevant issues in a dramatically changing business environment, and grew to become important topical opportunities for business people to learn about the depth and variety of resources available to help through challenging times.

Now we are seeking your input as we look to restructure and move these webinars into the next phase. We have developed a very short (just one minute) survey to get your take on the timing of these events and topics that may be helpful now and going forward. Does your business need marketing assistance? How can you keep your employees healthy and engaged? Are you struggling to bring both workers and customers back to your business? Take our quick survey and let us know. You’ll find the link on our COVID-19 Business Resources pages or you can type it into your browser at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7BRMFJC. Thank you.

Please note: there will be no Business Weekly Webinar on Monday, July 6.


In a summer when many things have been canceled, we are proud to be able to bring you the 2020 Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Tournament. This year’s tournament will be held, once again, on the beautiful upper course at Peek’n Peak Resort in Clymer on Thursday, August 27. Details are still being worked out and registration may be limited. The Chamber Golf Tournament is sponsored this year by A Automotive, AW Farrell & Son, Bush Industries, Community Bank, DFT Communications, Insurance Management Company, Koester Associates, Lake Shore Savings Bank, Lawley Insurance, and National Grid. Watch for more information to be announced soon!


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