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COVID restrictions change – safety protocols remain priority

By TODD J. TRANUM

President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier

As more and more New Yorkers are being vaccinated for COVID-19, the state is loosening some restrictions on public gatherings and preparing to open arts and entertainment venues at limited capacity. However, we all must continue to follow safety protocols if we are to protect our businesses and communities as a whole.

Starting March 22, residential gatherings will be allowed at ten people indoors or 25 people outdoors. Social gatherings will be allowed at 100 people indoors or 200 outdoors.

Beginning April 2, event, arts, and entertainment venues can reopen at 33 percent capacity with up to 100 people indoors and up to 200 outdoors. If all attendees present proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to entry, capacity can increase to up to 150 people indoors and up to 500 outdoors. Social distancing and face coverings are still required for al attendees. This is positive news for a number of local and regional venues that have been closed for the past twelve months. Theaters and event centers can finally begin to open their doors to larger groups.

At the same time, domestic travelers are no longer required to quarantine or test-out within 90 days of full vaccination. You have been fully vaccinated if you have received both shots of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This opens up the potential for increased tourism here in Chautauqua County this summer. International travelers are still required to follow CDC quarantine guidance.

Vaccination rollout has been challenging, but we are heartened to see additional local and regional clinics offered and we encourage all qualified adults to get the vaccine. Herd immunity is reached through vaccination, so the distribution of vaccines not only helps those who are vaccinated, but the entire population as well. Please be persistent. If you are trying to get a vaccination appointment we urge you to keep trying.

We continue to encourage all local residents to follow the guidelines and protocols that have been so heavily publicized over many months. Wear a mask – even if you have been vaccinated – and keep social gatherings within the limits. In addition, continue social distancing, frequent hand washing and sterilizing commonly used surfaces. This is not the time to become lax, as variants of the virus continue to spread nationwide. For the health of our population and our economy, please continue to protect yourself, family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.

FACEBOOK MARKETING SERIES WITH THE CHAMBER

If you have considered Facebook advertising for your business, but the prospect of doing it seems daunting, the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is offering an overview of how to cut through the confusion and make Facebook work for you. The Chamber’s Director of Member Marketing, Jonathan Weston, is presenting a six-week series of sessions to focus specifically on Facebook marketing. The series will begin with some general practices and then delve into more advanced steps as you progress to help meet your strategic goals. Classes will meet Thursdays from 3:30-4:30pm. Class time will include opportunities for questions, and follow-up opportunities for consultation.

Topics covered will be:

March 18: Boosted Posts, Basic Facebook Campaigns, and General Strategy

March 25: Getting Set Up: Ads Manager, Business Manager, and the Facebook Pixel

April 1: Tracking Events, Creating Custom Audiences, and Planning a Strategy Part 2

April 8: Creating Advanced Facebook Ad Campaigns

April 15: Reviewing and Optimizing Your Facebook Campaigns

April 22: Apple iOS14 and Facebook: The Apple Wars

Jonathan Weston is also the general manager of Panama Rocks Scenic Park. He has used Facebook marketing to increase sales for his own business and has taught Facebook marketing at Jamestown Community College as part of the Small Business Development Corporation Social Media Marketing series.

These classes are offered as a service of your membership in the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce. You can register through our online calendar at www.chautauquachamber.org. To learn more about the value of membership or about joining the Chamber, contact Guy Ditonto at gditonto@chautauquachamber.org.

INCREASE YOUR SALES WITH A STRONGER ONLINE PRESENCE

In our next Tuesday Talks event, March 9, the Chamber and MAST will present a special hour-long event aimed directly at small businesses that may have some social media presence, but don’t have a website. There are numerous reasons why a website is crucial, and they will be discussed in this session. In addition, there are several ways businesses can get a website either by using a local developer or through a simple do-it-yourself plan. Building a website can be an easy process, and the Chamber can also help to integrate your site with our new ShopLocalCHQ online sales and marketing platform so you can sell products and services online. Our presenters will be Brian Rovegno with the Small Business Development Center and Jonathan Weston, Director of Member Marketing for the Chamber. This event will be held at 8:30am, Tuesday, March 9. It is sponsored by OBSERVER and The Post-Journal. Register now through the Chamber events calendar at www.chautauquachamber.org where you can also watch for other upcoming events. We always encourage participants to get up and out to support local businesses and get some takeout breakfast or coffee to enjoy while you view our online event.

SELL ONLINE NOW WITH SHOPLOCALCHQ

Easter is coming and more spring holidays are on the way including Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and graduations. Now is the time to get your products online! It’s easy for local businesses to sell online through ShopLocalCHQ!

This easy to navigate online marketplace currently includes over 350 products from more than 70 Chautauqua County businesses. Since the site opened at the end of November, local businesses have sold more than $8,900 worth of products through ShopLocalCHQ.

The marketplace aggregates purchases into a single shopping cart to make it convenient for the customer, and then easily manages the back-end distributions to sellers and also accounts for taxes and shipping. Participation is a service of membership in the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce. Any business that’s interested can learn more by calling our office at (716) 366-6200 or (716) 484-1101, or by visiting www.ShopLocalCHQ.com and clicking “start selling” to begin the process.

CHAMBER CONGRESSIONAL MEETING ONLINE IS MARCH 26

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce presents an opportunity to meet with our representative in the US House of Representatives. This year, our session with Congressman Tom Reed will be held online via Zoom Webinar at noon, Friday, March 26. Come prepared with questions for Rep. Reed. This event is sponsored by Advanced Manufacturing Technology, Chautauqua Institution, Forecon Inc, Jamestown Mattress Company, Media One Radio Group, OBSERVER, The Post-Journal, and UPMC Chautauqua. Register online now through our Chamber calendar at www.chautauquachamber.org.

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