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Chautauqua County preparing for Phase Two reopening

Submitted Photo Pictured above: James Quattrone, Chautauqua County Sheriff; PJ Wendel, Chautauqua County Executive; and Christine Schuyler, Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services Director.

MAYVILLE — Phase Two reopening could happen in Chautauqua County early next week.

On Friday, County Executive PJ Wendel said during the county’s weekly COVID-19 news conference that it’s his belief based on the information he has been provided that Phase Two of the New York Forward reopening plan will start Tuesday.

Businesses that will be allowed to reopen includes offices, real estate, in-store retail, vehicle sales and rentals, commercial building management and hair salons and barbershops.

For hair salons and barbershops, locations will be required to limit workforce and customers by 50% maximum occupancy; ensure 6-foot distancing rules; waiting rooms must be closed and lines “should be avoided” to ensure social distancing is maintained; establish designated areas for pick-ups and deliveries; employees must be provided face coverings at no cost; customers must wear face coverings to enter if over the age of 2 and medically able to do so; and employees must wear gloves or wash hands before and after contact.

During the news conference, Wendel was asked if barbers and beauticians would need to be tested for COVID-19 before being allowed to work. He said that is a concern from several local salons and barbershops because there is not a lot of clarity about whether its a mandate or just a guideline. He added that it would be unfair to make barbers and beauticians get tested for COVID-19 while other professionals in other careers aren’t required to be checked.

“It’s a concern to target one group of certified professionals,” he said. “We are all concern. That is the biggest push back we have (is about testing for salon and barbershop employees during Phase Two).”

According to New York Forward Phase Two guidance, it is “strongly encouraged” that employees of a barbershop or salon be tested for COVID-19. The guidance also states that owners must implement “mandatory daily health screening practices for employees.”

Wendel said the same metrics that allowed for Phase 1 reopening will be used for Phase 2. As of right now, he said Western New York is meeting the metrics and is scheduled to move into Phase 2 once Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives the green light.

Wendel said businesses that will open either in Phase Two, Three or Four should be preparing their reopening plans and filing the necessary plans with the state, which can be found at forward.ny.gov. He said it’s time to once again support local businesses as they reopen.

“It’s important. They are the baseline of the economy in Chautauqua County. They are the lifeline,” he said.

Wendel said people are asking a lot of questions about when county services like the Department of Motor Vehicles, pistol permits and real property tax office will be open or offered again. He said county officials are working as quickly as possible to resume all county services.

“I believe in Chautauqua County our recovery will be greater than our setback and we can only achieve this through what I call, ‘A unity of effort,”’ he said.

Chautauqua County’s COVID-19 statistics include one new case being announced Friday, bringing the total active cases to 19, with one hospitalization. There are 258 cases under quarantine/isolation orders, with not all cases being confirmed to have COVID-19. To date there are 59 recovered cases, four deaths, 82 total cases and 2,726 negative test results.

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