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How COVID-19 has affected various industries in Essex County

ESSEX COUNTY AREA, NJ – In addition to public schools that continue to release information on distance teaching plans in the event that the state orders them to close, local businesses and places of worship are also affected by the threat of the new coronavirus COVID-19. .

For some, working remotely is an uncomfortable but viable option; and people like Kristi Castano, owner and CEO of Castano Consulting in Caldwell, “are helping companies move towards more remote methods with their marketing, sales and lead generation plans.”

Some companies, such as Caldwell’s Modern Music Academy (TMMA), have the ability to offer something in between for employees and customers. TMMA owner Jarrett Zellea explained that while his business will remain open, he also offers remote music lessons.

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“We will organize video lessons to give everyone the opportunity to take music lessons without missing a beat from home,” said Zellea. “It is live, so they keep their scheduled time. There is a virtual waiting room, and they take lessons from home. We have a very positive and positive feeling because we are too prepared. We have tablets and we have improved our Internet connection to better streaming.

“We don’t plan to close immediately, so if people feel comfortable entering here, we will be open. This is still a great time to sign up for music lessons if kids are looking for something to do from home without leaving home. By continuing to have some normalcy and something fun, this is something we can give them. “

Others are not so lucky, however. Since closing the shop is not an option or is still considered a last resort for many workplaces, some establishments have simply adapted the way they conduct their daily activities, even if it is simply a matter of soliciting further levels of extreme supervision.

For accounting firms such as Bederson Accountants and Advisers from West Orange and Fairfield, for example, it is not possible to downsize working hours during the height of the fiscal season in mid-March, even with the threat of health risks. However, keeping employees and customers safe remains a top priority for Bederson, according to marketing director Susan Wernick.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and taking precautionary measures to protect our employees and customer families,” he said. “Because we have the technological ability to work remotely, our policy advises all employees to do so in any sign of cold or flu. We also reduced visitor traffic through our office, collaborating virtually with customers and encouraging them to send overnight tax preparation documents or to deliver them to our reception area “.

Managing partner Mark Mazza stressed the importance of staying available to customers in difficult circumstances.

“Regardless of the times, personal service is not negotiable for us,” said Mazza. “Thinking outside the box allows us to maintain the same level of personal service, bypassing potential dangers of these uncertain times.

“We have also added a COVID-19 resource page on our website to provide the latest information from the government and other organizations addressing a variety of possible concerns that business owners may experience during this period.”

Due to virus threats, other service providers such as Advantage Termite & Pest Control, Inc. in West Orange, will not operate very differently than usual, but company spokesman Kristy Gray said that more attention has been paid and some larger customers who have closed have already had an impact on the company.

“Our kids still wear gloves and are also very cautious with what they touch and be careful of contacts,” said Gray. “We are more of an individual affair and fortunately our service staff is not in a large crowd; what they do is quite unique in nature. We have had places that we normally attend for which we have heard that they will close a little, so this forced us to rearrange our appointments, but at this point, most things have been the status quo for us.

The real estate sector is reacting not only to the threat to health, but also to the financial impact that the nasal dive markets have had.

“We are ready for remote work, but in the re-fi business, people expect us to go to their home,” said Linda Percoco, owner of the Max Title Agency in Livingston. “I will offer to remove the money from the closing fee if they come here to close our office – it would be $ 300 if they came here instead of $ 375 if I go to them. We are taking all precautions to keep everyone safe.

“People are afraid of losing their interest rates that they have joined. They have to freeze their rates because rates are going up again. Banks have started to raise interest rates. If you’re not stuck now, the odds are scarce that soon you will get the rate you thought you wanted. “

Ken Baris, President Jordan Baris, Inc. Realtors of Livingston, West Orange and South Orange, said that business is going as usual, even if its real estate agents “are doing it without shaking hands.”

“It’s first and foremost security in terms of not approaching the customer, having wipes, not shaking hands, drying things, doing more with FaceTime and zoom meetings,” said Baris. “We are simply adapting very quickly. Very energetic sales meeting this morning, but it was all remote.”

Baris added that he saw the effects that the stock market downturn had on homeowners, buyers and sellers.

“There are a lot of people who literally call and say,” I’m so frustrated on the market, why don’t I put my money in the house and live on the investment? “” Said Baris. “I also see people talking about upgrades. We expect a lot of adverts after what happened to people’s wallets. We have people on our team ready to do business and they are doing it.

“As the environment adapts, we will adapt. We have been in business since 1952; we have seen hurricanes, stock market crashes, wars, riots: we have seen everything, we have always adapted and we have been able to provide a very valuable service to our customers. This is exactly what we have done here. I receive the heart of everything that is happening and right now, today, while we are designated as a national emergency, we have closings, new listings and offers made. “

Elsewhere in West Orange, Carla White-Garrett, representative of the Federal Credit Union of the Atlantic, said that the organization is “listening to see what’s going on every day”, but otherwise “it’s just trying to be cautious.”

“We must have availability for our customers for transactions,” he said. “When you’re a financial institution, you still have to stay open and be there for clients.”

At Goddard School, a daycare center and daycare center serving families in West Orange, Livingston, Montclair, Verona, Bloomfield and South Orange, on-site owner Nicole Harrison said the facility would only shut down if directed by the health department state to do it or “If there was a direct correlation with sick family members.”

In response to the threat, however, Harrison said the school had taken some measures, such as “screening people participating in tours to confirm that they have not been to any of the countries most affected by this recently, extending [its] welfare policy [and] sending home children who have excessive cough. “He added that there is a hand sanitizer located on the door and that the facility no longer uses the iPads normally seen at the entrance.

In order to ensure that all students are washing their hands thoroughly, the school has created a game to mark a child’s hand with a fluorescent highlighter before he or she uses the bathroom and expect the sign to disappear when the child come back.

“I probably have 10 parents a day to stop and talk about it,” said Harrison. “[We are] just doing everything possible to be vigilant. It’s a kind of day-to-day thing. “

Another West Orange entrepreneur who wanted to remain anonymous said that his fitness and instruction-oriented business doesn’t even plan to close, but is “much more cautious with continual cleaning” and applies common sense “how to tell customers don’t get shown if they’re sick. “

Similar companies, such as the West Essex YMCA in Livingston, have followed the school district’s example of closing for the next two weeks in order to “protect populations at risk and YMCA members.”

“The operational decisions we are making are in line with the idea of” flattening the curve “of the spread of the virus so that our hospital systems can respond to those who are sick in a timely and reasonable way,” Y wrote in a note on the decision. “We have a role to play in slowing the spread of the virus while serving the community in a healthy way …

“Y is not an entity that needs to close; however, we respect the intent of the governor’s communication regarding minimizing the spread of disease and social distancing. We are preparing to close and cancel programs and classes, including all youth programs, for two weeks based on local school district decisions. “

This publication will continue to provide timely updates on all local information related to the ongoing dissemination of COVID-19.

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