BUFFALO, N.Y. — More Western New York merchants are relieved to learn that the region was able to reach all seven pandemic recovery benchmarks required by the state. That means more businesses can begin reopening as of Tuesday as long as they have a plan in place.
They include construction, manufacturing, wholesale trades, select retail stores for curbside pick-up only and parts of the agricultural industry.
Maureen Bartley has been able to keep Maureen's Buffalo Wholesale Flower Market in operation to some degree but it hasn't been easy on her.
"Its been incredibly difficult...I've been here literally twelve hours a day," she said.
The pandemic restrictions started in mid-March but now Bartley hopes to get some help and resume more business operations.
"First I installed this Plexiglass," Bartley said. "We have a table here. We have a sign going up that says pickup - curbside pickup. We'll have tables out tomorrow with flowers and plants on them so people can pick their own. I hired back...three or four people are coming back starting tomorrow to get ready."
Just like other phase one business elements including construction sites, manufacturing plants, and various retail outlets, there are still conditions that apply in the workplace. Bartley will have her masks handy and the workflow will be spaced out.
"We'll be all working in separate areas," she said. "My suppliers have to leave things outside. I'm not letting anybody in the building. No one can come in the building. It's all curbside."
The big question is when could we see a transition to allow for more operation at full capacity and when could more businesses like personal grooming and professional services open up. We turned to the Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz who stressed we may not see a lot of change right away. It really comes down to those covid calculations.
"Looking at the numbers. Have we gone up on hospitalizations? Have we gone up on deaths? That we're not gonna be able to do in two or three days," Poloncarz said.
The County Executive says Western New York will hopefully be able to begin entering Phase Two by June 2 or June 3, at the earliest. Poloncarz says Western New York will need to show the state about two weeks of data for that to happen.