Assemblyman Billy Jones Joins Local Leaders to Demand More Guidance for Mall Reopening

Assemblyman Billy Jones (Chateaugay Lake) joined President and CEO of the North Country Chamber of Commerce Garry Douglas, Clinton County Chairman Mark Henry, Supervisor Michael Cashman, General Manager of Champlain Center Mall Lisa Getty and the owner of Lake City Hobbies Greg Nephew today at the Champlain Centre Mall to call on Governor Andrew Cuomo to release more guidance on reopening malls and discussed the negative impact the COVID-19 shutdown is having on businesses located at the mall, including dozens of small businesses.

“Several small businesses located at the Champlain Centre Mall shared their heartbreaking stories with me about the possibility of closing their businesses due to the COVID-19 shutdown,” Assemblyman Jones said. “This is unacceptable. Small businesses are the backbone of the North Country economy and there is no reason why places such as shopping malls along with health and fitness centers, movie theaters, and bowling alleys cannot reopen safely. Obviously, we understand that there are health and safety concerns, but we have proved and will continue to prove that our North Country businesses can reopen in a safe manner. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have repeatedly stated that the North Country economy will take longer to recover, and we need to act now to prevent more irrevocable damage to our region. New York State is not a monolith but instead is a large diverse state with different regional needs and it is urgent that Governor Andrew Cuomo releases more guidance so that more industries can reopen under Phase IV.”

“The numbers we need to be concerned about from a local public health standpoint are very encouraging,” said Senator Betty Little. “But the numbers we need to be concerned about when it comes to our economy aren't. We need our businesses and we need commerce. We need our malls to open and other places like bowling alleys and movie theaters. Social distancing, wearing masks, being careful and smart is effective. I'm confident we can move forward safely in this next week by opening up even more of our economy.”

“Everyone wants the reopening process to continue to go forward in a considered and safe way,” says Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. “And we are confident that North Country malls such as Champlain Centres are prepared to reopen their interiors in a safe manner. Other large retail venues have remained open the entire time, and we have a number of small businesses in the mall who are in sectors like hair salons and retailers who have reopened everywhere else while they remain in forced dormancy. We need these businesses and their employees to have the opportunity to at least begin what will be a hard recovery after added weeks of closure. And so, we continue to seek the finalization and issuance of guidelines, ideally within days, for mall interiors as well as for gyms, movie theaters and amusements like bowling. The Chamber will work with them as we have already done with thousands of regional businesses to understand and comply with the requirements.”

“It’s not only frustrating, but also financially devastating as well. All the other industries have an idea of when they can reopen,” said Greg Nephew, owner of Lake City Hobbies. “We thought we were going to be reopening on May 29th as part of Phase 2, when retail was permitted to reopen.”

“I urge the Governor to act as quickly as possible so that these businesses, which have been closed and waiting for months, can salvage their futures and put their employees safely back to work. Clinton County stands ready to assist them in these efforts,” Clinton County Chairman Mark Henry added.

“The North Country region continues to experience low Covid-19 cases,” said Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Michael Cashman. “Just as we have taken a regional approach to reopening, I strongly urge New York State to adopt guidelines for a regional approach to industries. Allow our North Country region with local health officials to design and pilot public safety practices that can be recalibrated for other locations throughout the state. The Champlain Centre Mall is not the same scale as the Sunrise Mall in Massapequa on Long Island. I have little doubt that we can ensure public health with creative solutions to reopen the Champlain Centre Mall.”

The North Country region entered Phase IV of reopening last Friday, but New York State has only issued guidance for higher education, indoor and outdoor low-risk sports and recreation activities, and media production. Last week, Assemblyman Jones released a statement calling on Governor Cuomo to release more guidance for Phase IV. Assemblyman Jones along with other local leaders continue to advocate for more guidance so that more industries can reopen.