Speaking in Albany on Sunday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo outlined a phased plan to reopen business activity in New York. The first categories to reopen would be construction and manufacturing and the reopenings would take place on a regional basis. Cuomo did not say when reopenings might begin.
“Make a determination and then monitor whatever you do,” Cuomo said in describing the anticipated process. “Phase one of reopening will involve construction and manufacturing activities. And within construction and manufacturing, those businesses that have a low risk, right. There’s a range of construction activities. There’s a range of manufacturing activities. But those businesses that pose a low risk within them.”
Cuomo said that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations would be followed. Once a region experiences a 14-day decline in the COVID-19 hospitalization rate it may begin a phased reopening. There would be a number of restrictions:
The region must not open attractions or businesses that would draw a large number of visitors from outside the local area;
There will be two weeks in between each phase to monitor the effects of the reopening and ensure hospitalization and infection rates are not increasing;
The plan will be implemented with multi-state coordination, especially in downstate New York;
The plan will also coordinate the opening of transportation systems, parks, schools, beaches and businesses with special attention on summer activities for downstate, public housing and low-income communities, food banks and child care.
The phased reopening will also be based on individual business and industry plans that include new measures to protect employees and consumers, make the physical workspace safer and implement processes that lower risk of infection in the business.
Phase two would involve a business by business analysis prepared by businesses.
“How essential a service does that business provide and how risky is that business? If you open that business, how much risk are you possibly incurring and how important is it that that business reopen,” Cuomo said the analysis must ask. “What precautions are they going to take in the workplace? What safeguards are they going to put in place? It’s very much going to be up to businesses. Then we’re going to leave two weeks between phases so we can monitor the effect of what we just did.”
Cuomo said the rate of infections and number of hospitalizations would be monitored to see if the business reopenings are responsible for increased illness. Another item to be monitored is whether people are drawn to the regions where reopenings are underway from great distances.
“It’s possible that you open something in Syracuse or you open something in the North Country where you now see license plates coming in from Connecticut, New Jersey, people from downstate all coming to that area because they’ve been locked down and they’re looking for an activity,” Cuomo said. “So that’s something that we have to pay attention to.”
Cuomo said he may have some word this week on whether schools will reopen for the remainder of the school year or remain closed. He has said in the past that what happens with the schools needs to be tied to what happens with businesses, since it would be difficult for people to go back to work if their children had no place to go.
“The way a business opens will determine the risk,” Cuomo said. “They can’t really determine how essential their service is, but they can determine how risky opening their business would be. We need them to be creative and think outside of the box.
“We’ve been speaking with business leaders across the state, but some people even need a new economic model. We want to bring sports back so there’s an activity that people can watch on TV. What sports can you do without an audience? What sports can you make work economically where you don’t have to sell a seat in the stadium or in the arena? How do you do drive-ins? How do you do different types businesses that could actually work in this environment? Again, they have to be creative and they have to think about it.”