5 regions in New York state reopen in phased process

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New York, May 16 (IANS) The US state of New York partially reopened on Friday, while the “PAUSE” order will be extended to May 28 for remaining regions including New York City (NYC), said Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Five out of ten regions in the state – Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley regions which have seen mitigation of the COVID-19 pandemic – entered the phase one of reopening on 12.01 a.m. (0401 GMT) on Friday, according to an executive order signed by Cuomo on Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported.
“They are the regions that meet the criteria. There’s no politics to this judgment, it’s all based on the numbers,” said Cuomo at Friday’s briefing.
Businesses in various sectors including construction, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, curbside retail, in-store pickup or drop-off are now qualified to restart reopening in these regions, as told in the state’s phased reopening strategy.
People are still required to wear a mask while working in construction sites and retail stores, and stores are limited to a 50 per cent capacity. Social distancing mandate still applies, Cuomo said.
Two weeks will be needed to monitor the COVID-19 infection rate before a region enters the second phase, according to the strategy.
The governor also said that those remaining five regions could reopen as soon as they meet all seven metrics, which focused on the decline in hospitalization, hospital capacity and testing capacity, and don’t have to wait till May 28.
“What happens next is up to each of us. This virus is powerful and every time we think we understand it we learn we don’t. Government alone can’t keep you safe. It’s up to you,” he tweeted on Friday.
In another thread of tweets, Cuomo said state beaches will reopen on May 22 for the Memorial Day weekend at 50 percent capacity and masks will be required when social distance not possible.
“City, town and county beaches may open as well on Friday of Memorial Day weekend, as long as they fully enforce the minimum rules,” he added.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday that the city is not ready yet to open its beaches or allow activities such as barbecue and concerts in parks.
In order to keep people cool in the summer, the city will invest US $55 million to buy some 74,000 air conditioners for lower-income seniors. Some community cooling centers may also open with strict health guidelines, but “the beaches and the pools are not in the cards right now,” he said at his daily briefing.
“This summer will require us to think differently and watch out for each other. If the results of the last few weeks are any indication, we’ll make adjustments to help each other out and move forward together,” the mayor tweeted later on Friday.
As of Friday afternoon, the state has reported more than 345,000 COVID-19 cases and over 27,000 deaths, both atop the country, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.