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Three Regions in New York Cleared to Begin Reopening This Weekend

NEW YORK NOW - Communities in the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, and Southern Tier regions of New York will be allowed to start the first phase of reopening businesses this weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday, and two other regions are likely to follow soon after.

That means the cities of Rochester, Ithaca, Binghamton, Elmira, and Utica, as well as the surrounding communities, will all be allowed to start the first phase of reopening this Friday.

The first phase will allow those regions to begin approving construction, manufacturing, and select retail businesses with curbside pickup to come back online. Those businesses will have to take steps to protect their employees and customers from contracting COVID-19.

“The businesses that can reopen are the businesses that are approved by that region, and approved with these conditions,” Cuomo said. “Every business that reopens is going to have to meet certain conditions.”

Central New York and the North Country still lack the required testing capacity for COVID-19 to begin the first phase of reopening, but have met all of the state’s other metrics.

Western New York, Long Island, the Mid-Hudson, and the Capital Region each lack two of the state’s metrics. Each of those regions haven’t met all of the state’s standards related to the number of hospitalizations from COVID-19.

New York City is the region furthest from reopening. The five boroughs have met four of the state’s standards for reopening but don’t have enough hospital beds available to move forward with a reopening plan.

Each region is expected to reopen in four phases, divied up by the state. Each phase, which will introduce new industries into the mix, will be separated by at least two weeks. That time will be used to analyze how the changes affect the region’s COVID-19 data.

If a region begins to see an uptick in infections and hospitalizations from the disease after beginning a new phase, it will have to either take actions to curb the spread or roll back its reopening. Cuomo says that shouldn’t happen if individuals remain cautious.

“If you open businesses and the businesses are smart and the employees are smart, then nobody should get infected,” Cuomo said.

It’s unclear where each individual industry will fall in the state’s four phases of reopening, but the second phase appears to allow an expansion of retail, and allow professional services, finance, insurance, administrative support, and real estate businesses to resume operations.

The third phase will include restaurants, food services, hotels, and other accommodations. The fourth phase will involve education, arts, entertainment, and other recreational activities.

New York has carved out two industries from the phased-in reopening: drive-in movie theaters, and landscaping and gardening. Those will be allowed to resume operations statewide starting May 15, Cuomo said.

Low-risk recreational activities will also be allowed, starting this weekend. Cuomo didn’t give specifics, but gave tennis as an example of an activity that would qualify.

New York state will begin to publish daily updates, starting Monday, on each region’s progress toward beginning the first phase of reopening, Cuomo said. That will be available on the state’s website, top Cuomo aide Jim Malatras said.

The statewide data on COVID-19 appeared to continue its trend downward Monday, according to Cuomo. There are currently 7,226 people in the hospital, a slight decrease from Sunday’s data. Of those, 2,020 are intubated.

An additional 161 people died from COVID-19 Sunday, bringing the statewide death toll to 21,640.