Gov. Cuomo unveils four-phase plan for reopening state economy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Photo by Mike Groll/Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined a four-phase plan on May 4 to reopen New York state as COVID-19 hospitalizations have begun declining.

The gradual approach aims to restart the state’s economy so long as the novel coronavirus’ spreads at a relatively low rate, Cuomo said at his daily coronavirus briefing. 

“As long as your rate of transmission is low and manageable, then reopen your businesses. And reopen your businesses in phases so you’re increasing that activity level while you’re watching that rate of transmission,” Cuomo said. “If it gets over 1.1, stop everything immediately.”

The first phase of the plan allows construction, manufacturing, wholesale suppliers, and some retailers to reopen as soon as May 15 in counties that have seen a steady decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. 

The second phase would allow finance, real estate, insurance, and other types of retail businesses to reopen. 

The third phase would see the return of restaurants and more retail, while the fourth would permit the reopening of arts, entertainment and education. 

Cuomo’s new, four-tiered plan fleshes out the previous reopening scheme Cuomo announced in late April, which allowed for the return of construction and manufacturing in its first phase, followed by “a business-by-business analysis” of each sector’s essential nature.

Each county must meet several criteria Cuomo outlined before beginning its reopening: it must record a 14-day drop in hospitalizations and deaths, the rate of new hospitalizations must fall below two per 100,000 residents across a three-day rolling average, at least 30 percent of hospital and ICU beds must be unoccupied, and at least 30 tests must be given for every 1,000 residents per month. Each county must also retain at least 30 contact tracers per 100,000 residents.

So far, New York City has a recorded a steady decrease in hospitalizations and deaths and sufficient testing numbers — meeting three of the seven criteria, the New York Post reported

The phased plan may help pave the way for a safe reopening, Cuomo said.

“We have a couple of weeks, but this what local leaders, what a community needs in order to reopen safely and intelligently. It can’t just be, we want to get out of the house,” Cuomo said.