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New York, May 16, 2020
Starting Friday, five regions of New York, by far the most affected state in the United States by the ongoing global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, began Phase 1 of reopening after a long lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the deadly disease.
The five regions are Mohawk Valley, Central New York, Southern Tier, the North Country and the Finger Lakes, where retail stores can reopen for curbside pickup, or in-store pickup, among other relaxations.
Residential and commercial construction can resume, and so can manufacturing. Greenhouses and nurseries can reopen, as can several other industries.
Officials will carefully monitor health data on a daily basis to ensure the safety of employees, customers and all New Yorkers, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said at a press conference here on Friday.
He said that the five regions had met all seven metrics required to begin phase one of the state's regional phased reopening plan.
NYS on PAUSE will be extended until May 28 for all regions that do not reopen today - Western New York, the Capital Region, the Mid-Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island. When a region meets all seven metrics required for reopening, that region may immediately enter phase one of reopening, he said.
"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," 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."
An official statement said Phase 1 businesses must follow specific guidelines. For example, for retail stores, customers must order ahead for curbside or in-store pickup, and social distancing is required inside the store. For construction, masks must be worn within 6 feet of another worker and employers must provide masks.
Every business is required to develop a written plan using a template provided by the state that puts the safety of their customers and employees first.
For regions that have begun reopening, Phase 2 will begin after a two-week period, as long as the health data show the region can enter the new phase safely. Phase 2 will allow even more businesses to reopen, including professional services, hair salons and barber shops, more retail stores, administrative support and real estate businesses.
State beaches will be open Memorial Day weekend. In coordination with the governors of New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware, New York State beaches will reopen with restrictions in place effective Friday, May 22. The restrictions include reducing the number of people allowed and ensuring there are enough staff present to enforce social distancing. Local beaches and lakeshores may also open next Friday if they follow the same safety precautions.
Cuomo confirmed 2,762 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 345,813 confirmed cases in New York State.
As many as 132 people died on Thursday, taking the death toll in the state to 27,878.
Overall, the United States has reported a total of 1.442 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 87,530 deaths so far.
Worldwide, more than 4.542 million cases of infection have been reported with as many as 307,666 deaths, according to the dashboard maintained by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University.