Phase 2 on the horizon, bringing hope for small business owners

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NEW YORK CITY — For days, the mayor and governor have gone back and forth about whether New York City will enter Phase 2 of reopening on Monday.

Meanwhile small businesses owners have had to forge ahead with plans as they prepare to reopen their businesses.

Chef and restaurant owner Allen Dabagh has been scraping by during the pandemic.

“Being uncertain about everything when you used to be certain about how you did your job is a very scary thing,” Dabagh said. “And there’s no manual, there’s no handbook, this is just figure it out as you go and hope for the best.”

With a modified menu and curbside pick up, he’s been able to keep his restaurant, Butros, alive, thanks to help from his sisters and girlfriend.

“Having a tight-knit family through this whole situation was honestly one of the biggest things that got me through all the hurdles of honestly running this restaurant and trying to figure out how to run this restaurant through all these times,” Dabagh said.

Now, as New York gets ready to enter Phase 2, Dabagh is hoping that customers will start to venture back out.
He’ll have seven tables on the Atlantic Avenue sidewalk, and expert Dr. Sachin Nagrani said people should feel comfortable dining outdoors.

“Fortunately the weather is really good right now. So outdoors is particularly safer than indoors because you have great ventilation and sunlight,” Nagrani said.

Nagrani is the Medical Director of Heal, a healthcare service offering home visits throughout the country.

He said as the city reopens, New Yorkers should still follow the same guidelines that helped flatten the curve, like wearing masks, washing your hands often, and social distancing when possible.

He said you can check COVID-19 updates and avoid areas if there are spikes of the disease.

While he’s cautiously optimistic, he said spikes in other states should serve as a warning to New Yorkers.

“If anywhere you can see people band together and do things for the greater good, it’s here in New York,” Nagrani said. “So I look forward to seeing society vibrant one day again, but we have to be careful right now.”

While Dabagh doesn’t consider Phase 2 the light at the end of the tunnel, he said any baby step forward is a big deal.

Which is why he’s encouraging all New Yorkers to shop small and shop local when they can. He said it means the world to the small business owners who are also your neighbors.

“Anything helps,” Dabagh said. “Buying the smallest thing will brighten their day and give them positivity.”

Not to mention, a little hope.

For more information on Phase 2 reopening, you can find a full list of industries cleared to open here.

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