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Upstate reopening underway as virus begins retreat

As New York continues on the down side of the COVID-19 curve, Governor Andrew Cuomo has given the go-ahead for the state’s reopening to get underway through a carefully choreographed phased plan.

While the stay at home order will remain in effect for the city and boroughs through May 28, several upstate regions where virus numbers appear to have been contained have begun to get back to work, albeit under new health and safety guidelines.

“Throughout this entire pandemic New Yorkers have stepped up to the plate and done a great job of working together to bend the curve, and today half the regions in the state will begin to reopen,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

“These regions have met the seven criteria needed for reopening, and as soon as other regions hit those benchmarks they can begin phase one of reopening as well.

“As we move forward with this process, it is up to all of us to understand our personal responsibility – that’s how this worked from day one and that’s how we will continue to slow the spread of the virus and start our new normal.”

Each region can enter Phase One of the reopening as soon as it hits benchmark health data that includes a drop in new hospitalizations.

As of Monday, New York City had met three of the seven criteria. Although illness rates have been in retreat, over 1,000 new cases were reported Monday (May 18) and the overnight death rate was 143.

“All the arrows are pointed in the right direction and now the question becomes focused on reopening – people have to get back to work and the state needs an economy – but we have to make sure we don’t reopen too soon,” Governor Cuomo said.

“We are doing this in a calibrated way and monitoring the data, facts and metrics every single day and using the lessons we’ve learned from others who have already gone through this.”

Phase one of the re-opening refers to non-essential businesses and include construction, agriculture, curbside and in-store pick-up retail, manufacturing.

Real estate services are included in phase two of the plan, along with professional services and retail. Restaurants will be allowed to open during phase three and while arts and entertainment won’t be allowed to open until phase four, Governor Cuomo has given racetrack the go-ahead to start operating without spectators.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have also agreed to open state beaches ahead of Memorial Day under strict social distancing rules.

Entrances, exits and parking will be controlled to keep capacity to 50 percent and games like beach volleyball are banned.

Police have the authority to close any public facility where social distancing is not being practiced.

Social distancing is the watchword of the reopening plan with rules in place for construction sites where all workers must have masks provided by their employers.

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