NYS to Begin Phased Reopening of Regions Across State

Monday, June 1, 2020

New York State has announced that it is beginning the phased reopening of New York State across certain regions. The plan for reopening the state, which was outlined by Governor Andrew Cuomo, includes a science-based plan for gradually reopening the state to minimize the risk of the coronavirus spreading while still allowing the economy to return to normal. Several regions, including the Mid-Hudson region and Long Island, have already began phase one of reopening, while other regions will need to be delayed.

               The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is the single greatest health crisis facing the United States in over a century, with more than 100,000 dead and more than 1.8 million confirmed infections. To prevent the spread of the disease, most states around the country, including New York, introduced some form of quarantine that restricted movement and closed certain businesses temporarily. Now, New York is looking to slowly reopen, in accordance with a plan that will reopen certain parts of the state in “phases.”

               The four phases of New York’s reopening plan are as follows:

  • Phase One: Reopening construction and manufacturing, as well as agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting. Wholesale trade will also be permissible again. Retail will be allowed to reopen for pick-up and drop-off only, either in the store or curbside.
  • Phase Two: Retail reopens fully, as do professional services like attorneys and accountants. Administrative support businesses will also be permitted to open, as well as those related to real estate, including renting and leasing property.
  • Phase Three: Restaurants and food businesses will be able to reopen for dine-in customers, and not simply pick-up or delivery.
  • Phase Four: Businesses in the arts, entertainment, and recreation, such as theaters, stadiums, and theme parks, will be allowed to reopen. Additionally, schools and colleges will be able to admit students back on their physical campuses.

               The rules related to each phase are complex and require each region of the state to meet certain criteria before they can progress to the next phase. This includes reducing infection rates and fatalities to certain levels, ensuring there are enough trained contact tracers to monitor the spread of the disease in each region, and other factors that impact a region’s ability to manage the coronavirus. Additionally, if a region initially begins to reopen, but starts to regress afterwards, it may be forced to go back to an earlier phase until it once again meets the reopening requirements.

               The phased reopening plan, formally referred to as “New York Forward,” has its critics. For example, some critics have noted the “Capital Region,” which includes Albany, Saratoga, and Warren Counties, is being held back due to heavy COVID infection rates in nursing homes in Warren County. Although the other counties have their infection rates under control, they are being held back by the disproportionate infection rates in a single County. Nevertheless, however, Governor Cuomo is sticking by the current plan, emphasizing that protecting public safety is the paramount concern.