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When temporary COVID-19 layoffs become permanent

As businesses respond to virus, some get permanent layoffs

About 472 employees across Long Island received pink slips over the past two months, according to worker-notification notices filed with the state. More than half are retail workers who are expected to be released just after the new year.

Among those transitioning from temporary to permanent staff cuts are stores, a fitness club chain and a law firm, according to recent state filings.

Under the state Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, companies with at least 50 full-time employees in New York must give workers a 90-day notice of a mass layoff or closing. Smaller firms are not required to file the notices.

Mariano Torras, chair of the finance and economics department at Adelphi University in Garden City, said the transition to permanent layoffs on Long Island is "a microcosm of what is happening at the national level."

"The magnitude of the economic shock we have seen ensures that many unpredictable spillovers and secondary effects are all but inevitable," he said.

The number of new positives reported today: 100 in Nassau, 74 in Suffolk, 795 in New York City and 2,126 statewide.

How Long Island's iconic diners are adapting to the virus

When the book is written about how restaurants survived 2020, diners could have their own chapter.

The pandemic climate runs counter to diners' identities as places where you can linger over a cup of coffee or arrive with a dozen friends for a late-night meal. Servers are now wearing masks, tables lack place settings, and instead of freshly brewed coffee, the air smells faintly of cleanser.

Inside the Lake Grove Diner, new plexiglass booth partitions lend the inside of the place a crystallized look.

"We’re trying to do the right thing. We talked to people and thought, we have to do it. We worry about our customers," said manager Peter Mitsos.

Other changes, though, are more subtle — like the removal of condiments from tables, truncated hours and the disappearance of daily specials. Read more about how local diners are adapting.

Patience sought as high schools await winter sports guidance

Though scheduling models have been drawn up and facilities have been reserved, the start of winter sports at Long Island’s public high schools is still in limbo.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to release early this month guidance for how winter sports can be conducted safely during the pandemic. Until then, few determinations can be made.

On Tuesday, New York State Public High School Athletic Association executive director Robert Zayas preached "patience."

"This is not the type of situation where we're getting immediate answers — we have to understand where we fall as Interscholastic athletics and high school sports on the ‘hierarchy of need,’" Zayas said Tuesday on the ‘Return to Play Workshop’ Zoom conference held by Section VIII, the governing body for school sports in Nassau County.

The uncertainty with flu season in the workplace

As if COVID-19 isn’t enough for workplaces to navigate, flu season is creating yet another hurdle.

Since many flu and COVID-19 symptoms overlap, health and legal experts say employers should follow the same guidelines that apply to the coronavirus.

For instance, if employees are symptomatic, they shouldn’t report to work and should be evaluated by a physician, says Domenique Camacho Moran, a partner at Farrell Fritz in Uniondale.

"The good news is COVID has allowed employers, and in many respects forced employers to roll out healthy workplace protocols," says Moran, who heads the firm's labor and employment practice.

More to know

Regardless of the presidential election outcome, a serious issue remains: whether the U.S. will be able to tame the pandemic that's surging. The U.S. death toll is already more than 232,000 and the seven-day rolling average for new daily deaths is rising.

Islip Town residents could see a nearly 6% property tax hike next year as the town deals with the economic effects of the pandemic.

Denver Broncos general manager John Elway and team president Joe Ellis have tested positive for COVID-19, the organization said in a statement.

England is preparing for all nonessential venues — pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, golf courses, gyms, swimming pools, entertainment places and other stores — to close Thursday in a new coronavirus lockdown.

News for you

The virtual kids fair that comes right to your home. During the All Kids Fair, children and parents can visit a petting zoo, see a magic performance or attend a soccer clinic — all virtually. The annual fair in Melville had to go online this year, but there will be more than 30 exhibitors for the live event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Get the details on what you can participate in.

Watch out for fraud with cash payment apps. People have been using cash apps like Venmo more frequently during the pandemic — and so are scammers, experts say. Learn more about the risks and what can go wrong.

How Saltwater Long Island expanded in a pandemic. Just before COVID-19 hit, the owner of Saltwater Long Island was thinking about expanding his mall kiosk at Walt Whitman Shops. Everything had come to a standstill — until the store was officially opened on Aug. 31. Read a Q&A with the owner about the expansion.

Plus: Our list of events from virtual concerts and classes to film discussions and drive-in movies has been updated. Keep track of some virtual (and socially distant) events you can put on the calendar.

Sign up for text messages to get the most important coronavirus news and information.

Commentary

Fighting bullying during a pandemic. Barry E. McNamara, a professor of education and associate dean of the School of Education at Concordia College in Bronxville, writes in a column for Newsday Opinion: The Dignity for All Students Act was signed into law on Sept. 13, 2010. DASA prohibits harassment and bullying, including cyberbullying, and/or discrimination, by employees or students on school property or at a school function.

Schools are required to develop and implement programs that ensure all students can learn in a safe environment that is conducive to learning. The term "safe environment" almost seems quaint given the variables schools have to address during this difficult time. Considerable time and effort has been expended to develop and implement the reopening of schools that can safely reduce the risks of contracting COVID-19. This is and should be the priority.

However, I fear that it will be difficult to implement anti-bullying programs during this crisis. We will see manifestations of bullying behavior during this pandemic. Keep reading.

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