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We All Have Pandemic Fatigue

President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce

There is no doubt that we are all tired of dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, the pandemic is not done with us. For businesses this continues to present significant challenges. Numerous businesses and organizations have been forced to temporarily close in the past couple of weeks due largely to staffing shortages as people have been out sick or caring for sick family members. Now schools are starting to feel the pain of staffing shortages as well, and that creates childcare issues for working families.

One year ago, as the COVID vaccines were rolled out the entire country faced a vaccine supply shortage – the vaccines could not keep up with the demand to get them. Now we have a different issue as many have been reluctant to get vaccinated, despite the ready availability of the vaccines.

Vaccines are not new and requirements have been in place for decades for school students, healthcare workers, and international travelers. The chief reason is that vaccines work to prevent serious illness – whether its polio, or smallpox, or measles, or now COVID-19. Yes, some vaccinated people do get sick. But the data has shown time and again that they will have less severe symptoms and easier recoveries than the unvaccinated.

While state and federal vaccine mandates are currently working through the court systems, businesses should prepare for the likelihood of some regulations in the future. Even now, businesses can provide incentives for employees to get vaccinated. That has been clear since last spring when the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission ruled that incentives had to be applied equally for all employees. Many employers have offered cash payments or paid time off. New York State also requires that employees be given time off to get their vaccination shots.

At this time, New York State has implemented a mask-or-vax rule for all establishments that are open to the public. Unless your business requires proof of vaccination to enter, then you must require that all employees and customers be masked. While enforcement of this rule is difficult, it is important to remember that the state issues business licenses of all types, and that those licenses require businesses to follow all state requirements. The mask mandate remains in effect until February 1 and Governor Hochul has said it will be reviewed at that time.

The current surge in COVID-19 cases is nationwide, and not just restricted to Chautauqua County. It is currently endangering not only the health of our communities, but it is also impacting our economy at both the national and local levels. We want nothing more than to see a healthy region and a healthy and vibrant business community. What one person does during a pandemic impacts many others.

The Chamber of Commerce asks one and all to remain vigilant and responsible – not just to yourself, but to our entire community. Please wear a mask in public places to help stop the spread of the virus and be courteous to businesses and frontline workers who are trying to comply with regulations. If you have not already done so, get vaccinated, or get a booster shot if you are now eligible. These measures are all good for our families, our communities, and our economy.

Tuesday Talks: Business Success Planning

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is planning its next Tuesday Talks event around the topic of business succession planning. When an individual or a family starts a business, they expect to keep it functioning beyond their initial operating plan. But selling that business, and sometimes even transferring it to the next generation in a family, can come with some challenges.

The Chamber is working with the Small Business Development Center at Jamestown Community College on this important panel discussion. All local businesspeople are invited to attend this free online event. Tuesday Talks is a series of informational discussions designed to cover a wide variety of topics that may meet the needs of local businesses.

This event will be held online at 8:30 a.m., Tuesday, February 8. Please register in advance through the Chamber’s web calendar at www.chautauquachamber.org

Mayville Winter Festival Seeks Volunteers

The Mayville-Chautauqua Community Chamber of Commerce is busily working on the 2022 Mayville Winter Festival, scheduled for President’s Day Weekend, February 18-20 at Lakeside Park. There are still spots available for potential sponsors, vendors, and volunteers.

If you would like to assist in any way with this outstanding local event, please contact Mayville-Chautauqua Community Chamber Coordinator Shannon Biekarck at sbiekarck@chautauquachamber.org.

To stay up to date on the Mayville Winter Festival, watch their page on Facebook or keep an eye on the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce calendar online at www.chautauquachamber.org.

Doors Open Jamestown Postponed

After consultation with all of our local attractions and officials about the ongoing COVID surge, the Jamestown Community Chamber of Commerce is postponing Doors Open Jamestown. We look forward to holding this event later in the winter when it will be safer to open all doors to numerous visitors for a free day at local museums and attractions.

For many years Doors Open Jamestown has been an exceptional opportunity for local residents to be a tourist right here in our hometown. After moving the event to an online only video montage last year, we have determined to hold it in-person this year, so we are not altering plans for the event, only the date will be pushed back. A new date will be announced soon.

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