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Updated: After Confusion, Southern Tier Enters Phase Two

UPDATED: 5/29/20 - 3:51 P.M.

BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) - The Southern Tier and four other regions in New York have been given the go ahead to enter phase two of reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement during his daily COVID-19 briefing on Friday, citing health experts.*

The lead-up to this point has been a roller coaster.

Friday marked two weeks since some New York regions entered phase one of reopening. That included the Southern Tier.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office said the two-week point is when metrics for reopening will be re-evaluated and regions would be eligible for phase two.

Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said during his Thursday briefing the Southern Tier has met all the guidelines to enter phase two, but he hadn’t heard anything from the state.

According to the NY Forward website on Thursday afternoon, the sectors eligible to open in phase two include professional services, retail, administrative support, real estate, rental and leasing. Hair salons and barbershops would be part of this group on a limited basis.

“What we’ve really been hopeful for was that the state was going to make some kind of announcement about that well before we officially went into phase two," Garnar said.

That changed Thursday night.

“I just got off the call with the state where they told us they will be looking at additional data before allowing counties to move into phase 2 of reopening," Garnar said in a statement. "This is absolutely frustrating."

"The people of Broome County did everything they were asked to do. Our local businesses cannot wait any longer," he added.

Cuomo's office also further clarified what businesses would be eligible to open in phase two.*

Speaking Thursday on Albany Public Radio WAMC, Cuomo didn’t say for sure one way or the other whether phase two can start on Friday.

“When the reopening of phase one ends, we’ll give the experts all the data," Cuomo said. "It’s posted on the web, but let them analyze it and if they say we should move forward, we move forward.”

New York's slow reopening includes four phases. Phase three includes limited dine-in restaurants and phase four includes arts and education.***

*Updated after Governor Cuomo's announcement that the county has entered phase two.

**Includes updated information on what businesses are eligible to open in phase two.

***This story has been edited to reflect new information on phase two reopening. An earlier version also incorrectly referenced “phase one” rather than “phase two”.