Five regions in New York will be allowed to begin a phased reopening of their economies starting Friday, allowing construction work to resume and retailers to reopen with curbside or in-store pickup, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.
Cuomo’s March 20 executive order, “New York State on PAUSE,” which closed nonessential businesses and ordered residents to adopt social distancing measures across the state, will expire on Friday.
The five regions in upstate and central New York have met the seven measures outlined by health officials to begin a phased reopening of local businesses.
Cuomo announced Monday that three of those areas — Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley — were ready to move into phase one of the state’s reopening plan. Since then, the Central New York and North Country regions have met the state’s metrics to begin reopening this week.
Phase one allows regions to resume manufacturing, construction and agricultural operations and retailers to reopen with limitations, Cuomo said.
“This is all based on the metrics and the numbers,” Cuomo said. “The big responsibilities for local governments to manage reopening businesses are daily monitoring of numbers, watching for business compliance and individual compliance.”
New York City has met only four of the seven criteria required to begin its phased reopening. On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that his city is “clearly not ready yet.” He said “unless something miraculous happens,” New York City’s stringent stay-at-home orders will remain in place “into June.”
In order to begin phase one of the state’s reopening plan, a region must report two weeks of declining Covid-19 hospitalizations or under 15 new hospitalizations on a three-day average, two weeks of declining coronavirus deaths or under five new deaths on a three-day average and under two new hospitalizations for Covid-19 per 100,000 residents on a three-day rolling average.
A region must also have proper hospital and intensive-care bed capacity and meet an adequate threshold of contact tracers and testing.
“Phased reopening does not mean the problem has gone away. It means we have control of the problem because of what we did and because of our individual responsibility and our individual actions and that has to be maintained,” Cuomo said.
Businesses that reopen will have to implement safety precautions outlined by the state, including social distancing practices for employees and customers, strict cleaning standards and continuous health screening of employees.
Starting Friday, low-risk activities including gardening, tennis and drive-in movies will be allowed to reopen statewide, Cuomo announced on Monday. He said New York has been “on the other side of the mountain” and is now working toward reopening the state without “taking a step back.”
Cuomo reported on Friday that the total number of hospitalizations and the number of new daily cases of Covid-19 have declined. He said that 157 people died due to Covid-19 on Wednesday, also a daily decline.
“If you see a change in those numbers, react immediately,” Cuomo said. “React immediately. If you allow this virus to get ahead of us, we will have a problem.”