Moving Forward To Yellow Phase
Waking up in “Yellow” today is an odd feeling.
It suggests progress, it invites a step toward getting back to business, it comes on the day after helpful adjustments were made to the Payroll Protection Program; yet it surely doesn’t feel like an all-out cause for celebration. Fact is, not much about this pandemic has provided a cause for celebration, shy of the daily inspiration we can find from our front-line workers keeping our residents healthy, our essential workers keeping our community moving and our community members stepping up to help whenever they can.
None-the-less, today does mark progress. And, as importantly, it is critical that we keep the progress going in order to continue to get our economy back-on-track. I am hopeful that “Green” isn’t too far off.
So let’s start with clarity on what it means to be in “Yellow”:
- Telework must continue where feasible;
- Businesses that are open must follow established protocols;
- Gatherings of 25 people and below are permitted;
- Retail may open, with restrictions; and,
- Restaurants may open outdoor dining, in addition to carry-out & delivery.
A more complete overview of all the Phases can be found here.
Again, it’s a start and, as has been the case since this crisis started in mid-March, we continue to learn as we go.
Much of that learning has been embedded in the Economic Recovery Plan developed and funded by the Lancaster Chamber, the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County, and the County of Lancaster. As such, we are thrilled to offer two tangible programs meeting businesses' critical needs.
Starting at Noon on Monday, June 8, you will be able to register for an industry-specific kit of free Personal Protective Equipment. Yes, free! And available to all Lancaster County-based businesses with 100 or fewer employees that register. Learn more at our just-launched Recovery Plan website at: www.recoverylancaster.com. This is an ongoing opportunity that is not restricted to a certain time frame (so there is no need to rush to sign-up on Monday).
Then, on Monday, June 15, those companies with 20 or less employees will be able to apply on that same website for up to $35,000 in grant money for your working capital and business retro-fit needs. This grant process is not first-come, first-serve. It is based on a variety of criteria that you will soon be able to explore on the website. You will have a week to apply after the portal begins. Again, you can learn more at www.recoverylancaster.com.
I strongly encourage you to visit the website and sign up for a newsletter to ensure you are kept-in-the-loop on all current and future opportunities regarding Recovery Plan programs you can benefit from. All of these programs have been made possible through the federal CARES Act dollars that the County received in April.
In the meantime, there are some additional and unique tools that should prove helpful as we begin to re-open:
- Please check out our completely customizable COVID-19 Flyer for businesses to communicate to their customers and employees. It's an online tool that enables you to print your own signs for your workplace, complete with your logo;
- As we continue to hear stories of confrontation around the mask/no-mask debate (and, by the way, there really isn’t a debate – Wear a Mask!...we all want to get to “Green” quickly and safely), here is a helpful guide
- A helpful guide developed by the Pennsylvania State Chamber that provides industry-specific guidance on preparing your workplace and workforce for re-open.
- Bringing Back PA - PA Chamber Guide to Prepare Your Workplace & Industry Specific Guidance
- Employee Screening Questions - a questionnaire to help you screen employees as they begin to return
- Plan to Open - Phases from Governor Wolf - a resource that will help you dig further into what each phase means and how to prepare.
These items and more are also available on our website at www.lancasterchamber.com/coronavirus.
Finally, please know the Chamber will continue to offer its ongoing virtual programming designed to help you navigate the pandemic journey. Please check the extensive list of past webinars available on our website (webinars that, to date, have benefitted almost 7,000 business people) and please consider attending some of our upcoming programming including Pandemic Safety Manager Training (6/10) and Events In a Virtual World: Are You Ready? (6/11). Explore all events and programming we are offering here.
When this whole journey began more than ten weeks ago, I don’t think any of us had a clue how difficult it would be. And, likewise, I don’t think any of us can be sure what the future brings.
Yet, never lose sight of the fact that we can take steps to control our own destiny. We can be sure that as we re-open we re-open safely. We can be sure we take advantage of the local resources that are available to help. We can continue to promote –even enforce—sound protocols around social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing and temperature checking. And, we can do our part by Thinking Local every step of the way!
As noted, while “Yellow” might not seem like a cause for full celebration, let me suggest you find a way to celebrate progress none-the-less. And, let me suggest you do that by ordering take-out tonight from your favorite local restaurant and buying something in a store tomorrow from your favorite local retailer. As always, we are in this together.
Tom Baldrige, President & CEO of the Lancaster Chamber