As small businesses in Rockland begin reopening, many of them are doing so with a new set of rules—and a new outlook. Since the pandemic was declared, Rockland businesses have been hard hit. While industries like construction and pharmaceuticals have stayed steady amid the pandemic, other businesses are reassessing their survival post COVID-19. While the true impact of COVID-19 will take years to finalize, there are some initial indications of how it has changed business as we know it in Rockland.
Wet Wipes And Sanitation Manufacturers Amp Up Production And Opening Hours
While many of the county’s businesses have been shuttered for months and are just reopening for business, certain industries have seen an acceleration in their business activity and opening hours. Thanks to increased demand, the production of disinfecting and sanitizing wipes have skyrocketed. PDI/ NicePak in Orangeburg has ramped up their operation times to 24/7 and recruited additional staff to match the increased demand during the pandemic. However, while production and opening hours have lengthened for some, businesses now need to account for additional time during the day for routine business cleaning and hygiene protocols. Therefore, for some businesses longer business hours do not necessarily mean higher bottom lines.
More Rockland Businesses Are Seeking Financial And Professional Aid To Stay Open
With small businesses across the country being the worst hit, officials in Rockland have recognized that reopening may be an uphill battle for some of its businesses. The slow down of sales, loss of income from prolonged closures, and additional costs of implementing new safety features has meant that many small businesses are now seeking financing to get back on their feet.
As such, organizations like the Rockland Community College Small Business Development Center are offering free business advice and helping businesses applying for SBA Low-Interest Economic Disaster Loans. The SBA Loan Scheme opened to applications from Rockland County businesses in March and since then, has seen over $20 billion in financial aid provided to small businesses across the country. Other programs offering financial aid to Rockland businesses include the New York Forward Loan Program and the Small Business Continuity Loan Fund.
Businesses Now Required To Complete Business Safety Plans
As businesses in Rockland reopen under the various phases, they are now required to prepare business safety plans before they can get approval to reopen. Under Phase 1 of the reopening plan, businesses in industries such as construction, manufacturing, and retail- curbside pickup were included. More recently, the country has satisfied the New York mandated criteria for a Phase 4 reopening, meaning nonessential businesses were given the green light to reopen.
However, these businesses are still required to develop a safety plan and affirm their compliance with the New York State guidelines, which can be completed online. While businesses do not need to submit their safety plan for state approval, they do need to be kept on file for reference during an inspection or outbreak. New York State’s Department of Health has provided a NY Forward Safety Plan Template which businesses can use to outline the actions they will implement to prevent the spread of C-19. Businesses are also required to satisfy additional safety requirements, including scheduling regular virus disinfection of the business premises, implementing six-feet physical distancing among personnel unless wearing a face covering, and the installation of social distance markers on business premises.
Finally, according to the Rockland Business Association, the county has also launched the Rockland On A Road To Recovery And Stimulus Program, which offers businesses certificates of affirmation once they have complied with the New York Forward Guidelines For Reopening. It is hoped that this initiative will help the public know what businesses in Rockland are safe and open for business while soothing consumer fears about shopping in-store again.
There remains a long way to go for businesses as Rockland County navigated the new normal during COVID-19. While the state of New York and its counties are cautiously resuming economic activity, business as we know it has been forever changed. Now, a key question remains: How many of Rockland’s businesses will be able to handle the new roadblocks when reopening?