On Monday, May 5, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced a preliminary blueprint to gradually reopen the state’s economy. Cuomo’s stay-at-home order expires May 15, but not all regions and sectors will be able to return to normal immediately.
“This is not a sustainable situation,” Cuomo said of the seven-week shutdown. “Close down everything, close down the economy, lock yourself in the home. You can do it for a short period of time, but you can’t do it forever.”
Instead, Cuomo plans to rely on key indicators of progress to determine when and how parts of the state will be eligible to reopen:
- Declines in new positive virus cases
- 14 days of decline in total net hospitalizations
- Fewer than two new COVID patients admitted per 100,000 residents per day
- Declines in death rate
- Cannot exceed 5 new deaths on a three-day rolling average
- Increases in testing
- At least 30 diagnostic tests for every 1,000 residents per month
- Reliable contact tracing
- Baseline of 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents
- Steady hospital capacity
- 30 % of total hospital and ICU beds available
- 90 days of personal protective equipment stockpiled
During phase one, low-risk construction, manufacturing, wholesale, and select retail using curbside pickup only will be allowed to open after the shutdown expires on May 15. The effects of phase one will be evaluated after two weeks. As long as indicators are still positive and a new outbreak hasn’t occurred, state officials will allow the second phase of reopening to begin.
Phase two, which can begin as early as the end of May, will allow many important services to reopen:
- Professional services
- Finance and insurance
- Administrative support
- Real estate and rental leasing
After the success of phase two, phase three will allow restaurants, food services, hotels, and other accommodations to reopen to the public. To date, no timeline has been provided, but it’s possible the it could take months to fully implement all four phases of the reopen.
Arts, entertainment, recreation, and education are included in the fourth phase of reopening. Governor Cuomo announced at the end of April that New York schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year, so it’s expected that phase four will take place in late summer or early fall. This lines up with previous announcements by Governor Cuomo and New York City Mayor de Blasio to keep beaches, pools, and amusement parks closed throughout the summer.
Mandatory Business Precautions
During each phase of New York’s reopening, businesses are required to take specific precautions to “protect employees and consumers, make the physical work space safer, and implement processes that lower risk of infection.” These precautions include:
- Adjusting workplace hours and design to reduce density
- Enact social distancing protocols
- Restrict non-essential travel for employees
- Require all employees and customers to wear masks if in frequent contact with others
- Implement strict cleaning and sanitation standards
- Enact a continuous health screening process for individuals to enter the workplace
- Continue tracing, tracking, and reporting of COVID-19 cases
- Develop liability processes
Based on these guidelines, New Yorkers can expect a gradual reopening over many months, but even going “back to normal” will look much different, with face masks, health checks, and social distancing.