Coronavirus

NY, Mass Plan Phased Reopenings As Robots, Recommerce Show Promise

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As they gear up to restart their economies amid the pandemic, states from New York to Massachusetts are planning phased reopenings.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that three regions of the state had met the necessary metrics to start the first phase of reopening as of now when NYS on PAUSE orders end on May 15, while Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito unveiled required workplace safety standards for when “phased reopening begins.”

In New York, businesses in the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier can start to open on May 15 if the positive trend continues for phase one. That stage encompasses retail for curbside pickup and drop-off or in-store pickup; construction; wholesale supply chain as well as manufacturing; and agriculture, fishing and forestry. Two additional regions have reached six of the seven needed metrics and “could be ready at the end of the week” per Cuomo.

The Baker-Polito Administration in Massachusetts said companies and activities that offered “COVID-19 Essential Services” per Baker’s March 23 order will keep functioning, while those with a lower risk of virus transmission will open in earlier stages. “Decisions and timing will be influenced by public health metrics for when the first phase of reopening begins, as well as when it is safe to move into concurrent phases,” according to the administration.

But, as companies in areas ranging from restaurants to grocery stores, among others, open again, consumers will likely come back only if they know it is safe to do so. These companies are also contending with an economic landscape that requires a close eye on the margins. Dr. Eugene Izhikevich, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Brain Corp., told Karen Webster that retailers and other companies are going to have to think about “cleanliness as a brand value.”

The stage is then set for heightened development of Intelligence of Things (IoT)-enabled, autonomous robots to maintain the safety and cleanliness of aisles as well as backrooms. Brain Corp., for its part, focuses on giving original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) the ability to design and make robots to be used in retail environments.

And those on the hunt for value, fashion or collectibles — in addition to those just wanting to indulge their curiosity — tended to comprise the ranks of the usual recommence class, or they did until a few weeks ago, OfferUp CEO Nick Huzar said in a recent PYMNTS conversation. The pandemic, however, quickly grew his consumer base to almost everyone overnight.

“What we saw was a huge influx of demand pretty quickly because you can’t get things right now, the stores are closed down,” Huzar said. He noted that parents, in one case, have turned into an especially avid shopper base. They are looking for ways to keep their kids entertained and active as school has been closed for the year in nearly all places, while store shelves are running low on products for which no one had forecast shortages.

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The pressure on banks to modernize their payments capabilities to support initiatives such as ISO 20022 and instant/real time payments has been exacerbated by the emergence of COVID-19 and the compelling need to quickly scale operations due to the rapid growth of contactless payments, and subsequent increase in digitization. Given this new normal, the need for agility and optimization across the payments processing value chain is imperative.

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