JAMESTOWN — New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul heard feedback from the tourism industry during a roundtable at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown on Tuesday.
Hochul was joined by Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist, National Comedy Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson and other local tourism leaders.
She says she has received a lot of feedback from local businesses about the reopening process, many of whom are just happy to be back open.
“They’d love to be open more than 50 percent, but they also know there’s a high risk involved, and so to the restaurants and the various eating and drinking establishments, they understand why we’re doing what we’re doing,” Hochul told reporters. “They might not be thrilled with it, but they also can’t argue with the results of the fact that we have now driven the infection rate down to less than one percent.”
The Lieutenant Governor urged all New Yorkers to take some time this summer and plan a “staycation” to attractions around the state, like the National Comedy Center.
“They’ve done an incredible job, a creative approach, to making sure that there is no physical contact, that people continue to wear their masks, that the distancing is there,” furthered Hochul. “Even the interactive exhibits, you’d think that they would be shut down, well no, they found ways, this exhibit I just played with, you touch it once and then it (the artifact) goes on a table and it’s disinfected.”
The National Comedy Center reopened this month after implementing a new safety protocol called “LaughSafe.” The program was developed in consultation with health professionals at UPMC Chautauqua Hospital.
Executive Director Journey Gunderson says so far she has received a lot of positive feedback about the new “touch-free” system.
“Ninety-three percent of our visitors said that our new “laugh safe” health and safety protocols, as comprehensive as they are, did not have a negative impact on their experience,” said Gunderson. “We’re thrilled to be able to help people begin laughing again and to provide an experience that we’ve revamped to be completely touch free, worry-free, and safe.”
Safety measures like temperature checks, mask wearing, and increased sanitation are all part of the new protocols.
“We have reworked the entire visitor experience to be touch-free,” explained Gunderson. “Every visitor gets a laugh safe kit, so this is attached to a reel on one’s lapel or belt, it is complete with an individual stylist that each visitor gets, a disposable one that is only used by you as a visitor.”
“Your laugh band, that we would previously place around your wrist, contains your sense of humor profile and you can use that to tap into various exhibits, we also give you your own set of headphones and a reminder of the laugh safe health and safety protocols.”
Gunderson says since reopening in June most visitors are from New York State and Pennsylvania.
In order to follow New York State’s Phase Four reopening requirements, the museum is only operating at a limited capacity.