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Coronavirus update: Shelter Island business owners express concerns about disruptions


Winter on Shelter Island means many businesses and restaurants are closed either for the full season or  some that take short breaks during this period.

A number known to be open at this time of year haven’t yet responded to questions about their plans, but may be waiting to see how this weekend goes.

The IGA is open, but store manager John Lehman said there are problems getting supplies, since deliveries aren’t happening in time.

Not surprisingly, cleaning products have disappeared from the shelves and there has also been a run on frozen vegetables.

“It’s hit or miss” on other products, Mr. Lehman said..“We’re getting beaten up.”

Vine Street Café has had only a couple of cancellations on Thursday evening and no delays in food supplies, according to manager Maria Calloway.

“So far all is normal,” she said.

Maria’s Kitchen on Jaspa Street in the Center  is still open. But owner Maria Serano admits she’s nervous, and taking all steps to ensure neither her staff nor customers get sick. The staff is asking patrons to use hand sanitizers available at the door. Employees are wearing gloves and disposing of the them after each customer they serve . They are constantly scrubbing down counters, tables and floors, the owner said.

Ms. Serano. is watching other businesses such as Eagle Deli, the Islander and IGA, which are still open.

If they start to close, she said she could be right behind them.

Shelter Island Ace Hardware in the Heights is still open because “we have to be,” said co-owner Meredith Gurney Page. “High demand items” have disappeared and suppliers don’t know when they will be able to provide new stock, Ms. Page said.

A lot of regular customers aren’t showing their faces, but she’s seeing a number of new people, Ms. Page said.

Building contractor Chris Fokine is concerned about some materials he typically receives from China and other countries that could become scarce.

It’s not yet a problem since he has items stockpiled, but if the coronavirus continues its march around the world, he’s been warned to expect slowdowns to access some materials.

He uses as many materials manufactured in the United States as possible. But appliances, lighting fixtures, heating equipment and other items come from foreign suppliers who are warning that a slowdown in deliveries could happen, he said.

“Right now, business is great and no one is backing out of contracts,” he said. He remains vigilant and hopeful that the supply chain “won’t go south.”

Mashomack Preserve has closed its visitor center and all bathrooms, according to outreach coordinator Cindy Belt, but people can still walk the hiking trails.

The Shelter Island Historical Society is closed and Sylvester Manor personnel are working from home.

Jack Kiffer, owner of the Dory, only operates a few hours a day in the off-season, and has no current worries because his regulars — some 8 to 10 who always show up —  have continued to visit the Bridge Street watering hole.

Looking ahead, he’s concerned about staffing since he usually hires foreign students and has been told by an employment agency they may not be available this summer because of the coronavirus.

At Commander Cody’s, which has been closed for vacations, plans call to reopen Wednesday, according to co-owner Amanda Hayward.

Calls to multiple other businesses that generally are open have not been returned but will be posted on the Reporter website as information is received.

State of Emergency declared, school and library closed all next week

Supervisor Gerry Siller signed a State of Emergency declaration for the town today, March 13, which suspends “competitive bidding procedures for the purchase of critical supplies  and services;” denies  anyone entry to town facilities who present symptoms of the coronavirus; and gives the power to the supervisor/Town Board “to appoint personnel to fill vacancies or perform emergency services and duties.”

The State of Emergency also cancelled  town public meetings and town-sponsored programs “until further notice.”

The notice states that residents can access town departments via phone or email.

In other developments, the Shelter Island School District has cancelled all classes and activities through next week, March 16-20.

Monday evening’s Board of Education has been cancelled.

Shelter Island Library Director Terry Lucas announced the library will be closed though the end of next week..

Suffolk County has 28 confirmed cases.

As of Friday afternoon, there are now 28 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Suffolk County, according to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

Shelter Island, Riverhead and Southampton are the only Suffolk towns with no confirmed cases so far.

Southold has the highest total with 11.

There are five cases in Brookhaven, four in Huntington, two in Islip and Smithtown, three in Babylon and one in East Hampton.

Fifty-seven individuals in Suffolk County remain under mandatory quarantine, Mr. Bellone said.

There are 76 confirmed cases across Long Island in Nassau and Suffolk, according to officials. At a press conference earlier Friday, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said that there is a possibility that drive-through testing facilities for coronavirus could be brought to Long Island.

Mr. Bellone did not address that possibility during his remarks Friday afternoon. He assured that testing efforts are ramping up and reminded people they shouldn’t expect to be tested. If they’re feeling sick, he reminded them to stay home and consult their doctor — via phone — first.

He did, however, note that a shipment of New York made hand sanitizer — NY Clean — has arrived and will be distributed first to nursing homes in Suffolk County.

As an additional precaution, Mr. Bellone said the county Department of Health Services has recommended schools suspend all non-instructional after school activities. Civil service exams have been suspended for the next two weekends and the department of labor has suspended upcoming job fairs.

Suffolk County police officers, Mr. Bellone said, have also been instructed not to go inside a home on a call with emergency personnel unless deemed necessary. That’s specific to calls involving potentially sick patients.

“What we’re trying to do is limit exposure where we can, particularly for first responders,” he said.

The county executive also acknowledged that small businesses throughout the county are facing economic uncertainty due to the coronavirus.

“There are real impacts to businesses here,” he said, announcing that the Suffolk County department of economic development and IDA is working to identify what concerns and needs are for business owners who have and will be harmed by the outbreak.