‘New Beginning’ As Long Island Reopens

Richard Lewin
Hana Islami, an employee at White’s Apothecary in East Hampton Village, watered the potted plants outside on the first day of the phase 1 reopening.

Long Island began the first phase of its reopening after the COVID-19 shutdown on Wednesday.

“This is a big day for us on Long Island, for us in Suffolk County,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. Long Island was the ninth region to hit the benchmark to begin reopening.

“Of course, as we start Phase 1, this is a new beginning. We have been through some really trying times for more than two months now,” Bellone said. “This has been a period like we have ever seen before, like we have encountered before. It really put us to the test in every way imaginable. The impacts of it are devastating.”

As construction, manufacturing, and the fishing industries got back to work Wednesday, as well as limited curbside retail, Bellone announced Suffolk is launching a new virtual job portal to help others as a way to help small businesses get back to work.

Created through the Suffolk County Department of Labor and the Suffolk Forward Main Street Initiative, the Virtual Career and Talent Portal will serve as a “one-stop-shop” to provide residents access to regional job opportunities and a pool of perspective employees for businesses looking to hire. Veterans will get priority. Employees can even get an alert when a job is posted.

On the South Fork, where the traffic seemed to pick back up, shops were open for curbside retail, and some construction sites were bustling.

“So far, not too many complaints,” East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo said Wednesday. “We have been very proactive in sharing the guidelines and trying to make sure businesses understand what Phase 1 requires. So far, the struggles we have are ensuring the labor industry understands their safety plan requirements,” he said of social distancing, wearing masks, etc. “Also, the curbside pickup for retail is a challenge. The actual guidelines are pretty restrictive.”

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said spirits seemed lifted.

“People’s mood seemed to be lighter, as if we were finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “We need that psychological boost, if nothing else.”

“I think there was a positive feeling out there that we were making progress,” Schneiderman continued. “I could sort of feel it among people. They were happy we were in Phase 1. After two months of isolation, it felt like we are moving in a positive direction.”

There is guidance online for businesses www.businessexpress.ny.gov/app/nyforward.

Governor Goes To Washington

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo traveled to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to meet with President Donald Trump. Speaking from the capital, he urged the president to support an infrastructure program to stimulate the economy and provide jobs, while also repeating his call for the Americans First Law, stating no corporation would be eligible for government funding if it does not rehire the same number of employees it had before the pandemic.

He also called on politicians to do the right thing and provide federal financial support to the hardest-hit states.

“What happened to that American spirit? What happened to that concept of mutuality?” Cuomo asked. “You know there’s still a simple premise that you can’t find in a book, and Washington hasn’t written regulations for, called doing the right thing. There is still a right thing in life. The right thing you feel inside you. The right thing is calibration of your principle and your belief and your soul and your heart and your spirit. And we do the right thing in this country, not because a law says do the right thing, but because we believe in doing the right thing.”

“You have people saying, we don’t want to pass a bill . . . that helps Democratic states. It would be a blue state bailout is what some have said. … It is an un-American response. We’re still the United States of America.”

“States are responsible for the enforcement of all the procedures around reopening, but at the same time the federal government has a role to play and the federal government has to do its part as we work our way through this crisis,” Cuomo said. “There cannot be at national recovery if the state and local governments are not funded.”

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