As New York City enters Phase 1, many businesses face challenges to reopening

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Small business in New York City have the green light to get sales going again as the city enters Phase 1 of reopening and emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

But despite months of closures due to COVID-19, some shop owners are holding off on reopening right now.

On Steinway Street in Astoria, one of the busiest commercial corridors in Queens, a vast majority of non-essential businesses eligible to reopen remain shuttered. And it's not just the mom and pop stores.

Big brand stores are also closed, with no sign of reopening soon, and the few owners around to speak to Eyewitness News said they fear both COVID and looting.

Meanwhile, clothing store owners say curbside pickup won't help them much because customers prefer to browse and try on clothes before purchasing.

Many residents also said they don't want to shop for clothes yet because they fear getting sick.

"Because everybody touched it," shopper Theresa West said. "I'm 78. I don't want to be sick, you know, and I try to protect myself."

But Jonnel Doris, commissioner of Department of Small Business Services, says the city is there to help.

"As businesses reopen, SBS is here to provide resources and services that they need," he said. "We have instituted a hotline that is critical for our small businesses, and if you have questions and need one-on-one assistance, call our restart hotline at 888-SBS-4NYC (or 888-727-4692C). Since launching this hotline on Friday, we've had over 500 businesses call in with multiple issues, and we've been able to resolve them."

Mayor Bill de Blasio also pledged support.

"Store like the ones I visit in the Bronx that have a lot of work to do to come back, we're going to help them," he said. "We met with business owners, and we're going to get them direct grants and support. I think some of the bigger stores, Manhattan, were very quick to come back."

The city will also help small businesses by providing facemasks.

Still, some owners not opening Monday said they are preparing to reopen soon, as early as next week.

Some of the stores, however, may never reopen -- shuttered for good, a casualty of the pandemic.


abc7NY Phase Tracker:

COVID-19 Help, Information. Stimulus and Business Updates
New York state
New Jersey
New York City
Long Island

What's Open, What's Closed
Reopening New York State
Reopening New Jersey
Reopening Connecticut

Share your coronavirus story with Eyewitness News
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus
Total count of NYC, Long Island COVID-19 cases based on patient address
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.