Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this week the statewide shutdown will end when "PAUSE" expires May 15. Several regions have met his requirements to begin reopening on Friday, while others are still waiting. It will be a four step phased approach to lifting lockdown.
"The worst that can happen is that we make a misstep and let our emotions get ahead of the facts, and we have to go through this again," said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a daily press conference last month. The Governor confirmed 2,176 additional cases of novel coronavirus, as of today, bringing the statewide total to 340,661 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 340,661 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, and in NYC there have been 185,206 cases and 15,233 deaths.
As the COVID-19 numbers for NY continue to decline and we are coming down the other side of the mountain, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo, and he said that a lot of attention is now on reopening. "We're doing something in this state that no other state is doing - we are having a transparent discussion about the reopening operations because it only works if people understand it and are part of it. New Yorkers will know exactly what is happening in their region and in their county on a daily basis, and the state will continue to monitor these metrics to determine when regions are ready to reopen and if we need to adjust the reopening plans. Four regions have now met all seven metrics required to begin reopening, and we will continue to keep New Yorkers informed as this process goes forward."
Governor Cuomo released the "NY Forward Reopening" Plan, which focuses first and foremost on getting people back to work and easing social isolation, without triggering renewed spread of the virus or overwhelming the hospital system. New York will reopen on a regional basis as each region meets the criteria necessary to protect public health.
Who is Opening on Friday?
Governor Cuomo also announced that as of today, the North Country has met all seven metrics required to begin phase one of the state's regional phased reopening plan when NYS on PAUSE orders expire on May 15th, joining the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions. If the trend continues, these four regions can begin opening businesses for phase one, which includes construction; manufacturing and wholesale supply chain; retail for curbside pickup and drop-off or in-store pickup; and agriculture, forestry and fishing. The Central New York region has met six of the seven metrics and could potentially be ready at the end of the week. A guide to the state's "NY Forward Reopening" Plan is available here.
Metrics to Guide Reopening
It is imperative that we use data and good public health principles to reopen. To that end, state and local officials will monitor four core factors to determine if a region can reopen. The loosening of restrictions in New York will be considered on a regional basis, based on the following criteria. These criteria are designed to allow phased re-openings to begin in each region only if:
• The infection rate is sufficiently low;
• The health care system has the capacity to absorb a potential resurgence in new cases;
• Diagnostic testing capacity is sufficiently high to detect and isolate new cases; and
• Robust contact-tracing capacity is in place to help prevent the spread of the virus
Phased Reopening of Businesses
Each region will reopen businesses in phases, with at least two weeks in between each phase. This allows state and local leaders to monitor the effects of the reopening and ensure hospitalization and infection rates are not increasing before moving to the next phase and permitting more economic activity.
The phase-in plan prioritizes businesses considered to have a greater economic impact and inherently low risks of infection for the workers and customers, followed by other businesses considered to have less economic impact, and those that present a higher risk of infection spread.
Additionally, when phasing-in reopenings, regions must not open attractions or businesses that would draw a large number of visitors from outside the local area.
There is, unsurprisingly, a significant demand by people right now across New York and our neighboring states to gather and enjoy each other’s’ company. While people should be able to have fun, facilities or events that attract hundreds of people from outside the region pose a significant public health danger as we try to carefully reopen. These places should be closed and events should continue to be postponed or cancelled until the threat of COVID-19 has subsided.
As businesses reopen, they will not be returning to business as usual. Transmission of COVID-19 will remain a threat to employees and customers for some time, and business owners will need to adapt to this “new normal.”
Each business and industry must have a plan to protect employees and consumers, make the physical work space safer and implement processes that lower risk of infection in the business.
So what does reopening look like?
Phase One: Construction and manufacturing could open, and would also allow all retail stores to open for curbside pick-up.
Phase Two: professional services like law offices and real estate offices would reopen.
Phase Three: Restaurants could reopen for in-person dining as part of phase three.
Phase Four: Includes arts, theme parks and entertainment venues, they would open if the metrics continued.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in counties and cities that are beginning to reopen, the warning is clear: If cases surge again, the lockdowns will return. Reopening society may be a little different everywhere.
What about NYC?
While parts of the state prepare to reopening Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York City is not on track to start coming back to life until June at the earliest. Mayor de Blasio says there’s a possibility that New York City could lift some social distancing restrictions and allow non-essential businesses to open in June. And with two weeks between stages, if NYC starts with phase one on June 1 - the most optimistic target given by Mayor de Blasio - the full process won't be complete until July 31.