ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced guidance for businesses in five regions across the state set to enter the second phase of reopening.
Offices, real estate, retail and barbershops and salons will be allowed to open, with restrictions and reduced capacities.
Regional officials were frustrated on Thursday evening as Control Rooms were informed that guidance for phase two was still not available and that the governor would be announcing it on Friday during his press conference. Friday marks two weeks since the Finger Lakes, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, North Country and the Southern Tier entered phase one and officials had anticipated entering phase two. Multiple sources that were in the Southern Tier control room meeting said that details on why regions could not enter phase two on Friday was vague, leading to confusion.
That confusion carried into Friday afternoon, as the governor now says these regions can enter phase two.
“Today is today, they wanted it this morning instead of 1 o’clock? I can understand that,” Cuomo told reporters Friday. The governor, who has been criticized for directive issued to nursing homes earlier in the pandemic, seemed reticent to appear to be making public health officials — choosing instead to defer to state, national and international health experts in reviewing the data. “I wanted to make sure we had the best minds looking at the data.”
Cuomo says that office-based workplaces will be allowed to open under phase two, provided that businesses don’t exceed 50% capacity, conduct regular health screenings — such as a questionnaire or temperature check. Meetings will also need to adhere to social distancing guidelines and employees should avoid sharing food and beverage. The county has made signage available to businesses that are reopening.
Retail stores, which began doing curbside business two weeks ago, will now be able to allow customers into their store. Retail will also be held to 50% of capacity and employees must wear face coverings when interacting with the public. The governor signed an executive order allowing businesses to bar customers for not wearing a face mask. Malls will remain closed unless the store has an entrance and exit to outside, other retail without those entrances will have to continue doing business via curbside pick-up — which the governor says should continue whenever possible.
Barbershops and salons
hair cuts are available again! But only by appointment. Other services generally available at a salon are still prohibited in phase two. Employees must also wear face-covering AND a face shield while giving the hair cut. Customers must also wear face coverings. Cuomo says he would, and is urging others, to ask their barber if they have been tested. Stylists will be required to get tested every two weeks and the state is encouraging them to get tested prior to reopening. All shops must keep a log of customers they have provided service to.