The Town of Brookhaven has established a Small Business Recovery Task Force to help local businesses navigate reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative was born out of frustration with …
The Town of Brookhaven has established a Small Business Recovery Task Force to help local businesses navigate reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative was born out of frustration with “inconsistent” regulations from the state government that has harmed small businesses, according to town supervisor Ed Romaine.
“You’re actually gutting communities economically with decisions on paper that look good, but shouldn’t apply to [all busi- nesses],” Romaine told the Advance.
Romaine and the town board have been advocating for a quicker reopening of retail and service businesses. They are currently slated for Phase 2 of the New York For- ward plan, which allows in-store shopping, professional services, car rentals, and real estate services, among others. The in-store capacity must be reduced to 50 percent.
The town is arguing that small-business owners are even better equipped to safely handle customers, only hosting a few at a time and being able to oversee cleaning operations, compared to chain or big box stores that see way more customers each day.
“We urge that they be individually evaluated,” Romaine said.
These requests also go for the restaurant industry, which isn’t scheduled to open its doors to in-house experiences until Phase 3. Romaine said the task force has come up with a common-sense set of rules for restaurants to follow that will ensure safety while also allowing small businesses to survive.
“My biggest concern is that Main Street is going to be so adversely affected that many of these stores will not open again,” Romaine said.
The task force, with members from across the town who are business professionals, is working to create common-sense solutions to help safely reopen the local economy. One member, Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce executive director David Kennedy, said the group is working to make regulations more fair for small businesses.
Kennedy is hoping the state will allow businesses to take some control back into their own hands, as most are ready to take on the challenge of new cleaning regulations. And restaurants need to be able to open in some capacity with safe restrictions in order to keep them viable.
“If these restaurants are going to survive through this, it needs to happen,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said the task force is calling for restaurant outdoor or socially distant dining to be moved to Phase 2.
The task force will continue to push for equitable guidelines as Long Island moves through the reopening phases.
“It’s been great to communicate with other chamber and business leaders across the town on a unified front,” Kennedy said.