ITHACA, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during his daily press conference on Monday that the Southern Tier has met all seven of the state’s criteria to begin the first phase of re-opening.

“We are now on the other side of the mountain. Next step, how do we re-open, how do we re-open intelligently, how do we re-open without taking a step back?” Cuomo wondered aloud. “What we have done thus far is really amazing and it was because we were smart and we were unified and because we did that, we averted tragedy.”

Those criteria include a decline in new cases include:

  • 14-day decline in hospitalizations
  • 14-day decline in hospital deaths OR fewer than 5 deaths
  • New hospitalizations of under 2 per 100,000 residents
  • At least 30% hospital bed capacity available
  • At least 30% of ICU beds available
  • 30 per 1000 residents tested monthly
  • 30 contact tracers per 100,000 residents

Cuomo also issued state-wide plans for re-opening, calling this stage of the coronavirus response “NYForward,” that outlines the state’s approach to re-opening regionally. You can read the plan in full, here.

Under phase one of re-opening, some businesses deemed low risk by the state will be allowed to begin limited operations. Retail operations there were not already classified as essential my begin conducting business via curbside or in-store drop-off and pick-up. Landscaping and gardening businesses may begin operations and drive-in movie theaters can open. The governor also said that “low-risk recreation” may begin again, giving the example of tennis.

“We took the worst situation in the nation and changed the trajectory so that now we are on the decline. The rest of the nation, the cases are still on the incline,” said Cuomo. “That is because of what the people in this state did.”

Even as the region prepares to re-open, Public Health Director Frank Kruppa says that should not change how the public behaves.

“Phase one is specifically for construction, manufacturing, and retail for curbside pickup or delivery. There should not be much in-person interaction with these businesses in phase one, and people should still be wearing masks and social distancing – and continue to do so even as we enter future phases,” Kruppa said Monday.

Locally, Tompkins County Administrator Jason Molino was named to the Southern Tier “Control Room,” a leadership team that will monitor progress within the region including testing and tracing capabilities, monitoring of the regional infection rate and ensure compliance of local businesses.

“The control room is meeting daily to discuss updates from the State and to keep apprised of the metrics for reopening. My role is to raise questions that arise to the group, to share best practices, and to receive updates that I can share out with our County residents and stakeholders.”

At least one business owner took matters into their own hands on Monday.

Sources at Tompkins County and the City of Ithaca confirmed to the Ithaca Voice that a salon in Collegetown had communicated to patrons online their intention to re-open Monday, May 11.

“The state has put together a very detailed and smart plan for re-opening and all businesses must adhere to it,” said Mayor Svante Myrick. “What this business owner is doing is irresponsible and by jumping ahead of the other barbershops and salons that would also like to reopen, is risking setting back all of our efforts.”

Myrick said that the city was not taking any action against the business, citing the state hotline set up to report business and individuals violating distancing measures.

County officials had little more detail to share, saying they had received reports of the business re-opening and the county was investigating and will take “appropriate steps.”

Featured photo courtesy of Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo