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Region’s businesses look to future

Tom Martino, digital operations leader, prints a poster for UPMC at Data Paper in Muncy on Thursday. KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDy/Sun-Gazette

Jerry Wertz oversees operations at Data Papers, a printing operation in Muncy with an office in Williamsport.

Like many people, he’s happy to see the transition from red to yellow phase for businesses under Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan for reopening businesses.

Deemed an essential business, Data Papers continued to operate after the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but that didn’t mean it escaped the economic impact of COVID-19.

“Our business here in Muncy depends on the status of other states,” he said. “We are down about 25 percent in business because of what is happening elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, some of his staff have been working remotely.

“We actually didn’t have to furlough anyone, but those working remotely should be able to come back into the plant,” he said. “It will take a few more weeks for things to really ramp up.”

Many businesses forced to close due to COVID-19, such as nail salons, gyms, casinos, and theaters, where social distancing would pose extreme challenges, will remain closed.

Restaurants will continue to operate but not for inside dining.

“You are going to be able to go to liquor stores now and get inside,” state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, said.

A few state stores in the state, however, will continue to allow only curbside sales due to staff shortages, he noted.

“We are assuming manufacturing operations that have not been open are going to be allowed to open, but they will have to do social distancing,” state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Pennsdale, said. “Some manufacturers considered essential have been open the whole time, but they have put in social distancing.”

Peter Sides, of Robert M. Sides Family Music Center, Williamsport, was forced to close each of his four stores in March.

Since then, his staff has worked remotely serving customers in need of instrument rentals, music lessons and orders.

He’s anxious now to reopen his Mulberry Street location as well as a location in State College. Stores in Scranton and Horseheads, New York, will remain closed for now.

“We won’t be offering one-on-one teaching,” he said.

In recent weeks, music lessons have been conducted through video technology, which Sides noted has worked out just fine.

As a result, Sides has learned that it’s possible to take different approaches to conducting business and, therefore, it’s likely that things won’t soon go back to normal.

“Nothing has to go back to exactly the way it went before,” he said.

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