Chambers discuss reopening businesses with governor

DOVER — Chambers of commerce representatives statewide met with Gov. John Carney as discussion to further reopen businesses continues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following a roughly hourlong conversation Wednesday afternoon, more is planned. The chambers will now meet with Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Albert Shields and Division of Small Business Director Damian DeStefano, attendees said.

The point of contact connection with Mr. Shields and Mr. DeStefano was crucial for members, Delaware Small Business Chamber President Bob Older said.

“We as a group want to be in on the conversation for the regulations that will be announced coming up,” he said. “If you have regulations in place and businesses are ready to open now then they should be allowed to do so.”

According to Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce President Judy Diogo, “It was a good phone call that had a lot of good comments made on both sides.

“We’re just trying to get businesses open sooner rather than later.”

After the meeting Ms. Diogo said she hopes for businesses returning prior to June 1. On Tuesday, she said May 18 was a target date.

Gov. Carney spokesman Jon Starkey pointed to the state’s ongoing moves to reopen  parts of the economy before June 1, including farmers markets and retail salons last week. Also, the governor’s office acknowledged that businesses have solid plans for social distancing and best practices for personal hygiene.

Overall strides have been made in testing and through contact tracing plans as well, Mr. Starkey said.

“(Gov.) Carney is as eager as anyone to get Delaware’s economy back open,” he said. “But we have to open safely, with precautions in place.”

Repeating a similar refrain, Greater Milford Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jo Schmeiser said business owners have prepared diligently for opening their doors with best safety practices awaiting. Even soft openings would be welcomed at this point, she said.

“None of us want to do anything that’s not in the guidelines for keeping our employees, customers, ourselves, anybody safe,” she said. “We’ve stocked up on masks and sanitizer, educated our employees and thoroughly cleaned everything there is to be ready.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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