Written by Elena Barilla for NBC 5 on March 20, 2020

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Early this morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered 100% of nonessential employees to work from home in order to prevent spread of COVID-19, forcing some local small businesses to close.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik says she’s getting hundreds of calls to her office from small businesses looking for answers during what she says is an unprecedented time.

Stefanik says Washington will vote Monday or Tuesday on a bill that would include low-interest loans and portions of loan forgiveness for payroll and rent, available immediately if passed.

“My number one priority is making sure immediate relief is provided to small businesses – the businesses of Main Street, and not Wall Street,” she said. “This is about economic relief and liquidity for small mom and pop businesses that are the economic engine of the North Country.”

Stefanik says she’s been in touch with hospitality businesses in the Adirondacks who rely on the tourist season, and she has spoken specifically with colleagues about hotel and restaurant-focused relief.

Before announcing 100% of nonessential employees would be sent home, Cuomo announced earlier in the morning the temporary closure of hair salons, nail salons and tattoo parlors.

Randi Walton owns Polished from Head to Toe salon in Peru, and she says the order will be an opportunity to “hit the restart button,” to spend time with family. However, there are still bills to pay.

“I luckily, I have savings so I can access that if I need to but nobody really wants to have to do that,” she said. “I have to continue to pay my normal bills as a business owner to stay, you know, open, as far as my building and my mortgage.”

City of Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read acknowledges the governor’s announcement will have a significant burden on small and medium-sized businesses in Plattsburgh.

He hopes economic relief from the government will be tailored to the people who are hurting the most.

“I worry less about the very large businesses of the country. I’m worried much more about the small businesses, we need those small businesses to survive and be with us at the end of what we think will be very long ordeal,” he said.

The mayor says essential city employees will now operate under a time share system, which would allow employees to share equipment and spaces, but not at the same time. He hopes essential workers, such as grocery store clerks and pharmacists, will practice the same thing.

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