In an executive order Thursday night, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the statewide stay-at-home order until June 13 for the regions that do not meet the standards to begin reopening.
Large swaths of central and northern New York state that appear to be at low risk of a COVID-19 surge are poised to start to reopening Friday, Cuomo said, urging businesses to prepare plans to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Cuomo’s plan allows construction, agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, manufacturing and wholesale trade businesses to start reopening in the first phase. Retail stores can also provide curbside or in-store pickup or drop-off.
“Big question to me is how many businesses choose to reopen tomorrow,” Cuomo said.
Western New York and the eastern part of the state, from Albany down through the Hudson Valley to New York City and Long Island, will remain closed.
Regions that meet the criteria for reopening before June 13 could see an opening earlier than that date, according to Cuomo. He also said that the stay-at-home order could be extended beyond June 13 for regions where the criteria aren’t met.
The state is still advising residents to wear masks, practice social distancing and avoid contact with vulnerable individuals. And prohibitions on large gatherings of any size remain in effect.
Cuomo urged New Yorkers to proceed with caution.
“There is no law or regulation that tells you how to interact with your personal relationships,” he said. “That’s up to you. I hope you do it smartly.”
The state reported another 157 people who tested positive for COVID-19 in nursing homes and hospitals died Wednesday. The number of overall hospitalizations is continuing to gradually decline, but the average of new COVID-19 patients entering hospitals has ticked up for a third day to 420, up from 401.
Cuomo’s administration has divided the state into ten regions that must meet seven criteria that include a 14-day decline in or a small number of hospital deaths and hospitalizations before reopening. Each region, led by teams of local representatives, must also make sure they provide enough testing and hire contact tracers among other conditions.
Regions will backtrack if it appears infection rates are increasing, according to Cuomo’s office, or move on to the next phases of reopening after at least two weeks.
Cuomo’s administration says that reopening businesses must come up with a written safety plan that outlines how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Cuomo has said hospitals must have a 90-day supply of personal protective equipment as the state re-opens, but it’s been unclear how the state will enforce that.
His spokesman said Thursday that “regulations are forthcoming.”