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    Reopening Resources

The rapidly evolving environment in response to COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the businesses in our community. As we work together to #FlattentheCurve to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, please use this page as a resource to stay up-to-date on how to engage with and support Downtown Syracuse businesses, access business resources, and find links to COVID-19 information. 


Click here for information on how you can support Downtown businesses through takeout options, curbside pickup opportunities, online ordering and specials at restaurants, bars, retailers and service businesses. Downtown's fitness facilities and museums are going virtual, offering online classes, interactive and educational videos and more. Click here to see the full list and check back here often, as New York State continues its phased reopening plan through New York Forward. If you have anything you'd like us to include, please send us a note at and/or tag us on social media!

We will continue to share updates with you across our social media platforms. If you aren't already doing so, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  


We’ve been working with government leaders and industry experts to compile news and information to help Downtown Syracuse business owners with reopening. Every Wednesday, we send out an email to our business audience, tailored to a different topic each week. To be added to the distribution list, please send us a note at, with "Business Emails" in the subject line.

To review previous topics, please click on the links below:

For information on re-opening, financial programs, free business assistance and employee resources, please click on the headers below. We update this information regularly, as more resources become available. 


The New York Forward website provides up-to-date information about which industries and regions of the state are eligible to reopen. Eligibility for reopening is determined by health metrics region-by-region. New York State has categorized industries into four phases of reopening: 

Phase One

*Central New York qualified to begin Phase One on Friday, May 15

  • Construction
  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
  • Retail (Limited to curbside, in-store pickup or drop off)
  • Manufacturing
  • Wholesale Trade

Phase Two

  • Professional Services
  • Retail
  • Administrative Support
  • Real Estate / Rental & Leasing

Phase Three

  • Restaurants & Food Services 

Phase Four

  • Arts / Entertainment / Recreation
  • Education 

To check if your business is eligible to reopen, check the New York Forward Business Reopening Lookup Tool.

Before reopening, each eligible business must take the following three steps on the New York Forward Industries Reopening by Phase website:

1. Review mandatory practices and additional recommendations in the Summary Guidelines for your industry (Ex: Retail Guidelines in Phase One)

2. Read and affirm the Detailed Guidelines for your industry on the New York Forward website

3. Create and print your Business Safety Plan Template. Please note, this does not need to be submitted to New York State, but must be kept on-site at your business.

If you have questions, please refer to Empire State Development’s FAQ  web page or email .

Industry-Specific Guidance

Several organizations have released industry-specific guidance for business owners to consider in developing reopening plans. The Downtown Committee will continue to update these resources as additional industries weigh in:

Restaurants and Bars: The National Restaurant Association published a guide for the restaurant industry, and Streetsense produced a relaunch toolkit. 

National Restaurant Association COVID-19 Reopening Guidance   

Streetsense Toolkit for Reopening Bars & Restaurants

ServSafe Takeout has provided free on-demand training videos, accessible by clicking here.

Offices: Cushman Wakefield/Pyramid Brokerage published a How-To Guide for reopening the workplace. 

Recovery Readiness: A How-To Guide for Reopening Your Workplace

Hospitality: The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) partnered with the American Hotel & Lodging Foundation (AHLA Foundation) to provide free training for those in the hospitality industry.  


The following websites are helpful resources to stay up-to-date with the latest protocols and guidance:

New York State Governor's Office Pressroom: This is a resource for COVID-19 news and information.
New York State Empire State Development COVID-19 Related Resources: This includes business FAQs and updated guidance on what constitutes as "Essential Businesses." 
New York State Liquor Authority: This provides guidance on to-go and delivery alcohol sales. 
New York State Department of Health: This provides requirements for staffing, business closures, etc.
New York State Department of Labor: This provides information about worker unemployment benefits.
Onondaga County: This is a resource for updates at the county level, including the most recent news releases and executive orders. 
City of Syracuse: This is a resource for local policies relevant to the City of Syracuse. 


Central New York Community Support Fund: The Central New York Community Foundation - in partnership with the Allyn Foundation, City of Syracuse, Onondaga County and the United Way of Central New York - have established the COVID-19 Community Support Fund to provide flexible resources to organizations in Central New York working with communities that are disproportionately impacted economically. The Community Foundation will work with partners to administer the grants. To apply for a grant, donate to the fund, or see a list of grant recipients so far, please click here

New York Department of Labor Shared Work Program: Shared work allows you to keep trained staff and avoid layoffs. Employees can receive partial Unemployment Insurance benefits while working reduced hours. Full-time, part-time and seasonal employees are eligible. Click here for more information

Application for Suspension of New York State Debt Collection Activity: This application is for individuals or businesses that owe (non-medical and non-student) debts to the State of New York, that have been referred to the Office of the Attorney General for collection and litigation. Any such person or business - or their dependents - financially impacted by COVID-19 - or the international, national and state responses designed to prevent its spread - may complete and submit this application to be considered for certain forms of relief. This may include collection activity, interest accrual and the assessment of collection fees. 

National Grid: National Grid is temporarily suspending collections-related activities, including service disconnections to lessen any financial burden on customers impacted by COVID-19. These policies are effective immediately and will be in place through the end of April. At that time, National Grid will evaluate the continued need. Please note, regular billing will continue for all customers. Please click here for additional information. 


  • Launched by The Retail Council of New York, is an online platform designed for businesses across New York State that are continuing to conduct e-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fill out the online form to put your business website before a statewide audience. Restaurants that sell products online (such as coffee beans, packaged sauces, t-shirts, gift cards, etc.) are also welcome to sign-up. For additional questions, contact the Retail Council’s representative, Alicia Artessa, through email at
  • Kiva: Kiva connects U.S. small business owners to 0% interest, crowdfunded loans. Kiva is expanding the amount and eligibility for its 0% loan programs; businesses must go through an online application process to determine eligibility. Click here to apply.
  • Bartender Emergency Assistance Program: The United States Bartenders' Guild (USBG) National Charity Foundation is offering financial assistance for individual bartenders. Click here for the application
  • Restaurant Workers COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund: The Restaurant Workers Community Foundation is offering 0% interest loans for restaurants, funds for not-for-profits serving restaurant workers in crisis; and direct relief to individual restaurant workers. Click here for more information.
  • Yelp: To help local restaurants and bars, Yelp has announced $25 million in relief in the form of waived advertising fees, free advertising and products and services. 
  • Small Business Relief Initiative: GoFundMe, Yelp and Intuit Quickbooks have each donated $500,000 to the Small Business Relief Fund. The fund is open for anyone to make a donation. The Small Business Relief Initiative will issue $500 matching grants to qualifying businesses that raise at least $500 through GoFundMe. 

Inc. continues to compile a growing list of these small business resources; the link is provided here


New York State Empire State Development: Do you have questions regarding New York State rules and regulations, including Executive Orders? Reach out by clicking here

United States Chamber of Commerce: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has compiled strategic advice and informational resources for small businesses during the coronavirus. 

Onondaga Small Business Development Center (SBDC): The Onondaga Small Business Development Center (SBDC) continues to offer services for current and new clients via phone, email and video chat.

WISE Women's Business Center:  WISE is offering 1:1 Business Counseling to help you strategize as businesses rethink operations. Reach out to to schedule an appointment. 

SCORE Syracuse: SCORE Syracuse is offering free business mentoring from one of the organization's volunteer-experienced business owners.  Click here to sign-up for the service. 

Resources for Restaurants and Restaurant Workers: The Restaurant Workers Community Foundation has assembled information and helpful links for industry workers, accessible by clicking here


The New York Forward plan categorizes industries into four phases of reopening. As the developments surrounding COVID-19 and reopening continue to take shape, the New York State Governor's Office and New York State Department of Health are valuable resources to stay up-to-date. 

Locally, Onondaga County is a helpful informational resource. County Executive Ryan McMahon and county leaders host daily 3:00 pm live stream updates via Facebook and the Onondaga County website. The Onondaga County Health Department has compiled a list of FAQs, accessible by scrolling halfway down on this provided link

If you're experiencing flu-like symptoms, please call your healthcare provider. Additional resources about COVID-19 symptoms are provided through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization


New York State has established a COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 and a Mental Health Hotline at 1-844-863-9314.

Locally, Upstate University Hospital is fielding your questions at 1-315-464-3979. The phone line is open daily from 7:00 am - 11:00 pm. Staffed by volunteers and health care providers, calls are intended for anyone who is showing possible symptoms of the coronavirus, may have come into contact with someone who has tested positive, and/or anyone who may be experiencing symptoms. 

Upstate Medical University partnered with Microsoft to introduce an interactive online Coronavirus Assessment Tool to help answer questions and identify possible symptoms. The online tool - known as a chatbot - takes users through a series of questions. Based on the provided responses, the chatbot will assess the user's risk of having COVID-19 and suggest the next steps to take. 

Onondaga County has established a hotline to provide emergency help for senior citizens, medical professionals and emergency responders. Call 315-218-1987 for help with groceries and other essential items

Centro riders are encouraged to call 315-442-3400 for information about the bus schedule. Customers just need to know their Bus Stop ID number. To practice social distancing, passengers are asked to enter and exit from the rear doors whenever possible. Centro is sanitizing its buses and taking precautions with workers.