'Back to Work Does Not Mean Back to Normal': LI Businesses Prepare For Unusual Summer Season

Neil A. Carousso
June 17, 2020 - 8:20 am
Long Island barber shop

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- There's cautious optimism around Long Island's recovery as the region sits in phase two of New York State's reopening from the coronavirus pandemic.

"We need to rebuild confidence," said Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association.

In an interview with Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by BNB Bank, Law said businesses can only build consumer confidence by making safety its priority.

"Complying with the new state standards of personal safety and hygiene and social distancing and masks and sanitizers and plastic shield guards - all of those things not only will protect health, I think they will begin to restore confidence," he said.

About 300,000 people returned to work when Long Island entered phase two of reopening last week, Law told WCBS 880.

"Back to work does not mean back to normal because it still means there are going to be a lot of restrictions," he explained, adding that occupancy limits will exist through phase three, as outlined by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Law is a member of the Governor's New York Forward Reopening Advisory Board, which decides whether the region moves onto the next phase. He says reopening is only part of the short-term plan for businesses throughout the state. Business owners must also determine how to recover, and then, reimagine their future while the government drafts relief legislation.

"What we're trying to focus on is some other longer-term, economic development strategies whether it's big projects to try to accelerate or maybe tax or regulatory policies that would benefit business and encourage growth, Law said.

In the end, he believes Long Island will bounce back, but he acknowledges there are some hurtles. There has been a political divide amid the pandemic between the City and the Island as it pertains to people fleeing east to work remotely and vacation on Long Island beaches.

"The east end has always relied on New York City residents to support its real estate economy and its tourism economy in terms of restaurants and bars and hotels," Law noted, adding, "For some now to question New York City folks coming out here, that's sort of, I believe, quite disingenuous."

He said vacation spots in the Hamptons and Montauk will survive if Long Island embraces City residents this summer.

"Our economies are inexplicitly linked and we shouldn't pit one region against the other region," Law said.

Hear more about building consumer and business confidence on the road to recovery on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight Podcast on the RADIO.COM app or on the media player above.