Reopening plan for upstate New York taking shape, restrictions to remain on New York City

The state will roll out a phased plan that will allow some businesses upstate to open as early as May 14.
Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York state’s regional economy is coming closer to restarting as the state reports a steady decline in deaths and hospitalization rates due to COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday.

The gradual reopening could begin as early as May 15 in upstate regions that have seen a steady decrease in hospitalizations over a period of two weeks. 

On Saturday, New York state recorded 1,000 new COVID-19 cases and 367 deaths — a significant drop since early the peak in April, when the state clocked 10,000 new cases. The infection rate is currently at 0.8 percent, which means a COVID-19 carrier is only infecting one other person on average, according to Cuomo.

Because of the decrease in cases, Cuomo introduced a multi-phase plan on April 26 that would reopen businesses in select regions across the state as early as May 15. The first phase will allow construction and manufacturing to reopen, while the second phase will permit some other sectors to open based on their essential nature, he said. 

“Phase one of the reopening will involve construction and manufacturing activities, and within construction and manufacturing, those businesses that have a low risk,” Cuomo said. “Phase two would be more of a business-by-business analysis using the matrix that we’ve discussed: How essential a service does that business provide and how risky is that business.”

According to Cuomo, it will be “very much” up to businesses whether or not they reopen, but there will be a two-week period between phases to monitor whether or not the virus is making a comeback through testing and hospitalizations.

Cuomo, however, did not indicate that the reopening would extend to New York City — the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak — anytime soon. 

“They have to think about how they’re going to open up with this ‘new normal,’ what precautions are they going to take in the workplace, what safeguards are they going to put in place,” Cuomo said. “Downstate is obviously the most complicated situation.”

One caveat of reopening will be limiting attractions in one region to prevent crowds or an influx of outside visitors.