ITHACA, N.Y. –– As the Southern Tier progresses through phase three of the governor’s NY Forward plan and more businesses begin to re-open the Tompkins Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and the City of Ithaca to put on a virtual seminar preparing businesses and their employees to enforce coronavirus health and safety regulations and deal with non-compliant customers.

NYS and Tompkins County Public Health requirements include mask wearing for both customers and employees, businesses limiting capacity and creating space social distancing.

“We’re seeing a relatively widespread compliance locally,” said Jennifer Tavares, the Tompkins Chamber President. “This is an effort to proactively give businesses and employees the tools to manage what’s obviously a very different business environment.”

Gary Ferguson from the DIA agreed with this sentiment, but said he’s heard from several business owners that they are nervous about confronting non-compliant customers in a strict, but non-threatening fashion.

“We want people to be safe,” Ferguson said. “We don’t want to create a new safety issue.”

The seminar will take place Thursday, June 18, from 9 to 10 a.m. via Zoom.

The start of the webinar will be a 30 minute presentation by Mike Ellis and the team at Family & Children’s Services about de-escalation techniques and tools for the workplace in the time of coronavirus. The info session will be followed by a 30 minute Q&A.

Register online here. After registering you will receive an additional confirmation email containing the Zoom Meeting ID and Password to join the meeting.

Participants can email any questions for the presenters in advance to

To see what Ithaca businesses are open and to what capacity visit the DIA website. You can also visit the Chamber’s COVID-19 Business Resources to find up to date information and tools to help you, your business and your employees.

As a reminder to businesses that are planning on reopening, it is required by New York State to submit a reopening safety plan to the state government. More information on that and more related to COVID-19 visit the Tompkins County Health Department website.

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at