Cuomo: 'We start a new chapter' as NY regions prepare for reopening from coronavirus crisis

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo took his most concrete steps yet to start reopening New York's economy after a two-month shutdown, saying at least three upstate regions can partially emerge from restrictions Friday and resume activities, including manufacturing and construction.

Beyond that, and across the state, some low-risk business and recreational activities will be permitted starting Friday, including landscaping and gardening work. Sports such as tennis are allowed, too, as well as drive-in movie theaters, he said.

“We start a new chapter today in many ways,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing Monday, held in Rochester. “It’s an exciting new phase. We are all anxious to get back to work. We want to do it smartly. We want to do it intelligently. But we want to do it.”

Most of the state will remain largely on shutdown, including Long Island. Each region will be in charge of calibrating how quickly it brings back its local economy following the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Cuomo unveiled a list of people who will direct the effort for each area.

Long Island is not ready to reopen yet based on metrics Cuomo described, meeting only five of the seven goals.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Monday, "I find it very unlikely" Nassau will reopen to Phase One on Friday. 

But, noting that tennis and other activities will be permitted, she floated the idea of constructing drive-in movie theaters. She said she is pushing for more jobs and businesses to be put in the essential category, meaning they could open sooner.

"If you can shop at Walmart and Target, why can't you shop at Macys or your local mom and pop shop downtown?" Curran said in an interview. "You're shopping safely at Walmart and Target. Let’s use those same protocols for retail establishments."

No timeline for Long Island

The three regions approved to start reopening when the "Pause" order expires Friday are the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley. They get the green light to allow construction, manufacturing and wholesale supply chain, along with retail stores for curbside pickup and drop-off or in-store pickup. Agriculture, forestry and fishing also will be permitted.

The North Country and Central New York regions have met six of the seven metrics established by Cuomo, and could be ready at the end of the week, he noted. He counted Long Island among areas that "are very close" to meeting reopening requirements, though he didn't provide details. 

The "Regional Control Room" appointees in charge of gauging the reopening on Long Island will include the two county executives, Curran and Steve Bellone of Suffolk, as well as Kevin Law, chief executive of the Long Island Association, a business umbrella group; John Durso, president of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO; Eric Gertler, president and CEO of Empire State Development; and Tracey Edwards, Long Island director of the NAACP.

Durso said the new group does not have a set timeline for a Long Island opening, though all of the members are aware of the economic hardship businesses are undergoing.

“Everyone realizes we need to get our economy going,” he said. “We will move as quickly as the numbers allow us to, with the utmost care for the public and the working people.

“It would be irresponsible to move too quickly because the circumstances then would be catastrophic, not just for business, but to the community."

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