Governor Cuomo announced Friday that New York City is ready to enter Phase 1 of reopening on June 8. What does that mean?
Under Phase 1 for New York City, the industries allowed to come back include construction, agriculture, manufacturing, wholesale trade and retail operating with curbside or in-store pickups and drop-offs.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said New York City will enter Phase 1 of reopening on June 8 while five other regions—Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier—can enter Phase 2. Each industry is subject to specific state guidelines to maximize safety and social distancing. Business guidance for phase two of the state's reopening plan is available here.
Governor Cuomo also announced the implementation of a new early warning dashboard that aggregates the state's expansive data collection efforts for New Yorkers, government officials and experts to monitor and review how the virus is being contained on an ongoing basis. It tracks new infections and their severity, hospital capacity by region, and other metrics. The early warning system dashboard was developed in consultation with internationally-known experts who have been advising New York State. The early warning dashboard can be found here.
"Remember that reopening does not mean that we're going back to the way things were," Governor Cuomo said. "Life is not about going back. Nobody goes back. We go forward. And it's going to be different. This is about reopening to a new normal — a safer normal. People will be wearing masks and people will be socially distanced — it's a new way of interacting, which is what we have to do. Wear a mask, get tested and socially distance."
The city has been waiting to meet all three of its required thresholds for hospitalizations, ICU patients, and the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19.
It has consistently been below the thresholds on hospitalizations and the percentage of people testing positive, but the number of people in the city's ICUs has been problematic.
On Friday, there were 391 people in the city's ICU beds, still above the required threshold of 375.
The governor and mayor felt confident that the city would meet that threshold by June 8.
"We have identified about 40 patients that actually can be cared for outside of ICUs in a different setting that will give them the care that they need," Mayor de Blasio said. "That will put us under that threshold."
So what happens on June 8? The city can begin operating again in the areas of construction, retail (Limited to curbside or in-store pickup or drop off), agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, manufacturing, wholesale trade.
As the city heads into the phase, with it will come some 400,000 people returning to work and taking mass transit.
"Trains can easily manage that. The guideline will also talk about recommending staggered hours, staggered start and stop times," Governor Cuomo said.
Over the course of the next week, the governor said that he will be focused on hot spot zip codes where there are a high amount of COVID-19 cases.
"The zip codes with twice the infection rate. They're driving the new cases," Cuomo said. "The hot spots, higher infection rate, higher hospitalization rate, higher death rate."
Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined additional guidance and support for the industries permitted to restart in phase one of the City’s reopening. New York City is moving closer to the day when construction, manufacturing, wholesale suppliers, and non-essential retail including clothing and electronics stores can reopen with some restrictions.
“New Yorkers have worked so hard for this progress, but we must remain vigilant in this fight. I know we are all eager to return to normal, and the guidelines for phase one are the first step on that path,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We will support business so they can reopen while staying safe.”
During phase one, the City estimates 200,000 to 400,000 employees may return to work. To ensure this is done safely and without causing a resurgence of this virus, all businesses must adhere to specific hygiene, distancing, and health protocols. Full guidance can be found here.
Basic rules for all sectors include:
- Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfecting of any shared surfaces
- Implement mandatory health screenings for employees, such as questionnaires and temperature checks
- Create distance markers and post signage throughout the workplace reminding personnel to adhere to phase one guidance and rules
- Employers must conspicuously post completed business safety plans on site
- Require six feet of distance between people unless safety or core function of the work activity requires less
- Tightly confined spaces must reduce occupancy to under 50% of maximum capacity with all employees wearing face coverings
- Limit occurrence of all in-person gatherings and meetings, and only hold them in large, well-ventilated areas with social distancing and a maximum of ten people
Personal Protective Equipment
- Provide employees with free clean face coverings and, if the nature of the work requires, stricter personal protective equipment like face shields
- Encourage the use of face coverings at all times and require them if employees cannot keep 6 feet of distance due to safety or core work function
EDUCATION AND ENFORCEMENT
The Department of Buildings, Department of Consumer and Worker Protection and Small Business Services will educate and conduct outreach to businesses as they reopen for phase one. To support businesses and workers through this transition, the City will:
- Launch a business re-start hotline that will be available for any business that needs additional support or clarification about regulations or resources
- Release simplified industry guides to help educate businesses about proper protocols
- Train teams of City officials that will to go out to businesses and provide on the ground assistance
- Continue to meet with the Sector Advisory Councils to gather feedback on reopening progress and address industry wide concerns and issues
To ensure businesses are complying, enforcement agencies will conduct random visits to sites that are reopening. They will review reopening safety plans and provide guidance regarding best practices and applicable regulations. Summons or fines will be issued in the case of egregious or repeat violations. New Yorkers can call 311 to report a business that is violating the guidelines.
The City is expected to reach the threshold for phase one in the beginning of June. Businesses outlined in phase one cannot start to reopen until an exact date to do so is announced.
Finally, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo also announced that New York dentists can reopen statewide tomorrow. Dentists' offices will be subject to state guidance on best practices for safety and social distancing. The Governor also updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. New cases, hospitalizations, intubations and deaths are all declining as of yesterday.