Tuesday, October 20, 2020
In Face of Further Extension of Border Restrictions, Chamber Renews Call for Plan and Dialogue 
In the face of a further thirty day extension of existing border crossing restrictions by the Canadian and U.S. governments to November 21, the North Country Chamber of Commerce is renewing its call for a plan for eventual transition to normal movement, including serious consideration of long proposed interim adjustments.

The further extension to November 21 was announced today in a Tweet by Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.

"We have had no reason to expect any substantial relaxation in the status quo before the end of the year," states Garry Douglas, Chamber President. "But given the immense continuing impact in both countries and the importance of cross border connectivity to what remains the most special bi-national relationship in the world, we deserve to see some semblance of planning for eventual transition. On this front, we welcome Secretary Wolf's reference to 'working closely with Canada and Mexico to identify safe criteria to ease the restrictions in the future and support our border communities.' While non-specific, it at least looks toward a transition for the first time since March, and we will continue to seek serious consideration in the near term of adjustments that would, for example, accommodate near border property owners, some specific added forms of business travel in support of cross border commerce and investment, and further accommodations for family."

Douglas notes that the continued severe limitations on personal crossings will have a continuing impact on business in the North Country, particularly retail activity through the holiday season. "We can only encourage North Country residents to maintain their commitment to shopping and spending locally and push the computer mouse aside," says Douglas. "We are working with partners on fresh campaigns to encourage this. And we again call on Washington to finalize and approve a new COVID-19 relief bill that includes a second round of the PPP forgivable loan program for these impacted small businesses."

At the same time, Douglas expresses the Chamber's support for continued non-interference with cross border shipping. "The U.S.-Canadian economic partnership is about making things together to compete with the rest of the world, and our cross border supply chains are essential to the North Country economy in particular and to the country at large."
Stefanik Statement on Further Extension of Northern Border Travel Restrictions
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik has released the below statement following the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement that the non-essential travel restrictions along the U.S. – Canada border have been extended through November 21st, 2020:
“As Co-Chair of the Northern Border Caucus, I once again remain committed to working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Canadian government to establish a comprehensive plan to safely reopen the border and interim measures to ease the hardship on border communities,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “I am encouraged by Secretary Wolf’s statement that DHS is working closely with both Canada and Mexico to identify safe criteria to ease restrictions in the future. Our northern border communities rely heavily on the U.S.-Canadian economic partnership, and I will continue to work diligently with local stakeholders and my colleagues to restore cross-border travel.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo's announcement that movie theaters, outside New York City, may reopen October 23rd.

Some Guidelines Include:
  • 25% occupancy
  • A maximum of 50 people per screen
  • Air filtration system standards
  • and subject to other guidelines

"This is a welcome start for another category of orphan businesses, providing a way forward," states Garry Douglas, Chamber President/CEO. "We know most of the North Country's movie theaters are very ready to meet the requirements and all are committed to safe environments for their employees and customers. Some have been safely operating already for some months at cinemas they own in other states including Vermont."

Further guidelines will be posted here: https://on.ny.gov/3o0zgzH
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that ski resorts can reopen with 50 percent indoor capacity and with strict health and safety protocols under state-issued guidance starting Friday, November 6th.

State guidance on the reopening of ski resorts includes the following precautions:
  • Masks required at all times, except when eating/drinking or skiing
  • Social distancing between parties required at all times
  • Restrict gondolas/lifts to members of the same party
  • Limit ski lessons to no more than 10 people
  • Thorough cleaning and disinfection of shared/rented equipment
  • Shuttles, food & beverage, retail service must conform to State-issued guidance
  • Reduce outdoor capacity on mountain by 25% during "peak" days or if multiple trails are closed due to unseasonable conditions

Further guidelines will be posted here: https://on.ny.gov/3o0zgzH
Gov Cuomo Signs Legislation Designating Juneteenth as an Official Public Holiday in NYS 
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law legislation designating Juneteenth as an official public holiday in New York State.

The new law celebrates Juneteenth, a day which commemorates the end to slavery and celebrates Black and African American freedom and achievements, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday for New York State employees.

"I am incredibly proud to sign into law this legislation declaring Juneteenth an official holiday in New York State, a day which commemorates the end to slavery in the United States," Governor Cuomo said. "This new public holiday will serve as a day to recognize the achievements of the Black community, while also providing an important opportunity for self-reflection on the systemic injustices that our society still faces today."
Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Adds Six Nations of the Grand River to Travel Exclusion List
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has included the community of Six Nations of the Grand River to the list of exclusion areas within the 300-mile travel radius.
The decision to add Six Nations to the travel exclusion is in response to a recent outbreak of COVID-19 cases in their community. During the past week, Six Nations experienced 47 new cases of COVID-19, with 14 active cases and 33 probable cases, SRMT said.

The Tribe’s EOC is reminding individuals that COVID-19 remains a significant threat to Native communities, as underlying health conditions are more prevalent compared to other communities. As a result, the EOC stresses the need to refrain from traveling beyond the 300-mile travel radius or to the following exclusion areas: Six Nations of the Grand River, Kahnawà:ke, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Greater Toronto Area, New York City, and Long Island.Individuals who travel beyond the 300-mile travel radius or to an identified exclusion area must quarantine at home for 14 days and monitor symptoms. For a list of symptoms, please visit https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov.
Clinton County Health Department Issues Guidance for Halloween
As Halloween approaches, many residents are wondering what traditional festivities will look like amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Health officials continue to reinforce the importance of wearing face masks, physically distancing from others, and avoiding large gatherings to limit further spread of COVID-19—but what does that mean for Halloween?
“Many of our typical Halloween activities can be higher-risk for spreading COVID-19,” stated John Kanoza, Director of Public Health at the Clinton County Health Department (CCHD). “This year we won’t be able to celebrate in some of our more traditional ways, like large Halloween parties or indoor haunted houses, but there are some safer alternatives.”

Like most activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, trick-or-treating cannot be made zero risk – but it can be made safer with proper precautions. “The recommendation this year is to stay close to home and keep your Halloween activities limited to the people you live with, or do something called one-way trick-or-treating,” explained Amanda Finckel, Sr. Public Health Sanitarian and Safety Officer for CCHD’s COVID-19 response. “With one-way trick-or-treating, a station with individually wrapped treats or goodie bags is set up for families to grab and go. This reduces contact with people outside of your household.” If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before handling any items that will be given out.

If anyone in your household is sick, has had contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19, or has symptoms of COVID-19, your family should not participate in Halloween activities this year. “Turn the lights off and skip trick-or-treating if anyone in your home is sick. This the most important step we can take to reduce potential exposure,” explained Mr. Kanoza.

If your family decides to participate in one-way trick-or-treating, be sure to practice good health habits while doing so. These include:
  • Wearing a face mask. Children (aged 2 years and older) and adults should wear face coverings when outside their home. Be sure masks are appropriate and worn correctly – a costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask.
  • Wash or sanitize hands often. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, especially before eating.
  • Stick to small groups of people from the same household and keep at least 6 feet of distance from other groups.
  • Stay close to home. Trick-or-treating in your own neighborhood or town can help to stop the spread of germs from one area to another.

Residents are also encouraged to keep other safety considerations in mind when participating in one-way trick-or-treating. “Wear reflective clothing, walk on the right side of the road, and inspect your child’s candy before they eat it,” added Mr. Kanoza. “If our community members continue to be respectful and responsible this Halloween, we are optimistic that we can celebrate this holiday safely.”
  • Forward NY: Official State Website for opening procedures and guidelines.

  • Looking for Supplies: If your business is looking for hard to find protective products, we have created a list of businesses offering hand sanitizer, gloves, wipes, masks and other items.

  • SCORE: Visit Scores Coronavirus page for webinars and useful articles for small businesses.
To help the North Country reopen safely and meet the state and local mandates, The North Country Chamber of Commerce has created a comprehensive list of resources to navigate state and local requirements. Check out the home page for details. There is also a series of webinars available for businesses to help educate and provide answers to common questions.
Have Questions? We're here to help!

North Country Chamber of Commerce