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Five NY Regions Enter Phase Three Of Reopening

Five regions of New York are entering Phase Three of reopening Friday
Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

Five regions of upstate New York began Phase Three of reopening from pandemic shutdowns Friday. 

The North Country, Mohawk Valley, Central New York, Finger Lakes, and Southern Tier are all entering the third phase of New York’s reopening strategy. Phase Three includes the return of indoor dining at restaurants, as well as personal care services such as nail salons and massage studios.

After two weeks under Phase Two in the Mohawk Valley, and a surprise announcement that outdoor dining could return last week, Fulton-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Kilmer said not all restaurants and retailers had reopened right away.  

“But I think they’re all online right now and open, and I think it’s working very, very well,” said Kilmer.

Kilmer said many summer residents and second-home owners have returned to the region that sits on the southern edge of the Adirondack Park, but officials are still waiting to see what the impact of the pandemic on summer tourism will be. State campgrounds recently opened for reservations after June 22nd.

Garry Douglas, President and CEO of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, said he appreciated the release of indoor dining guidelines from the state earlier this week.

“So there were several days’ notice to refine safety plans to make sure that in addition to the pre-training we had provided, if there were any tweaks that they needed, anything that they still needed to do to be ready for indoor dining, that they had at least a few days to do that,” said Douglas.

Governor Andrew Cuomo came in for criticism from many frustrated local leaders across New York two weeks ago after reopening guidelines for Phase Two were not published prior to its earliest reopening date. The governor released guidelines later that day, announcing that the state’s progress reducing the spread of COVID-19 would be reviewed by “international experts.”

Still, many leaders in areas still under Phase Two are asking for an early start to Phase Three, including both Republican and Democratic officials in the Capital Region.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy spoke Wednesday.

“I would like to see us open up quicker and to start moving. You know, I know the governor is doing this slowly and being calculating with this, but as our numbers continue, we’ve got to get the economy back up, we’ve got to get services running…”

Governor Cuomo has been cautioning New Yorkers about rushing to a return to normal, and continues to urge state residents to wear facemasks and to practice social distancing and good hygiene. He spoke Thursday at the capitol in Albany.

“The numbers are good, everything we’ve done has been exactly right up until now. But that’s up until now. And you can make a mistake today that wipes out everything we’ve done. So we have to stay smart,” said Cuomo.

There is still no word on whether schools and universities can open in the fall, though public schools have been required by the state’s Department of Education to develop plans for different reopening scenarios.

Garry Douglas of the North Country Chamber says more info on reopening colleges and universities needs to be released sooner rather than later, for the sake of the students.

“We’re coming up to summer, their student bodies need to know so they can make decisions, frankly, if they want to come back or not. Because many of them will make that decision. If it is all remote, many of them will take a semester off,” said Douglas.

And something North Country officials are seeking to ramp up the economy outside of the state’s control, the reopening of the U.S.-Canadian border.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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