By New York State Senator Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, 47th District
Local small businesses throughout the state are suffering and facing significant economic challenges as a result of COVID-19.
These are enterprises that give back to their community, employ local people, contribute to the local economy, attract visitors and improve the quality of life for residents. It is imperative that we do everything that we can to help them during this public health crisis.
While I recognize that we must continue to focus on saving lives during this challenging time, there is no doubt that many of these small businesses are prepared and ready to reopen safely.
Take bowling centers, for instance.
In my district, King Pin Lanes in Rome – whose proposal has received favorable reviews and could serve as a model for others – plans to take a number of steps to ensure safety, including drastically reducing the number of lanes available to bowlers and enforcing social distancing and the wearing of masks in all common areas. They also have invested in critical equipment such as exhaust fans and sneeze guards to protect employees and patrons. Other establishments have indicated that they will require temperature checks at the door, serve food behind plastic sheets and sanitize shoes and bowling balls.
Bowling alleys in New Jersey, Connecticut and other states are open. I have urged the Governor to consider the reopening of bowling centers and similar establishments in the state before they close for good.
I also continue to hear from both owners and members of the gyms and fitness centers in my district that have yet to receive guidance or information on the timelines of their reopening. This lack of guidance hurts the entire fitness industry, but particularly hurts our small, locally owned facilities.
These business owners fear for their ability to survive and prosper due to significant financial and operational stress. On the other hand, constituents who make use of these facilities and who take their fitness classes are concerned about their ability to maintain their health while these facilities remain closed.
Like bowling centers, many gym and fitness center owners have worked tirelessly to develop reopening and safety plans that they believe will keep themselves, their employees and their members safe. These plans include restrictive occupancy limits, face covering requirements, distancing and sanitation measures and other mitigation efforts. Many of these plans are based on guidance already provided by the state to those in similar industries that have reopened.
While I understand that decisions on reopening are difficult to make, I have asked the Governor to swiftly release guidance and a timeline for the reopening of gyms and fitness centers around the state
As I have done during my time in office, I will continue to speak up for and advocate on the behalf of our small businesses and hardworking entrepreneurs.