No clear indication when Phase 2 of reopening starts

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 May 2020 at 10:48 pm

Many businesses in Orleans County and in the rest of the Finger Lakes Region have been gearing up to open for the first time in more than two months on Friday (May 29).

But the official word never came from Albany with the green light.

The Finger Lakes was among five of 10 regions in the state that opened for Phase 1 on May 15. The expectation has been that Phase 2 would start two weeks later, as long as there wasn’t a spike in hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19.

The Finger Lakes continues to meet the state’s seven metrics for the reopening, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today he wants an international team of experts to look closer at the data. The Covid-19 incubation can be up to two weeks. The governor thinks some more time may be needed to see if Phase 1 causes cases to increase too fast.

Phase Two would include professional services, retail with in-store shopping, real estate services, and administrative support. Some of the professional services would include limited barbershop and hair salon services.

Those businesses, instead of opening on Friday, were urged by Robert Duffy, the former lieutenant governor, to have plans ready so they can reopen when the time is right. Those plans should include safety precautions to keep employees and customers safe. Duffy heads the reopening team for the Finger Lakes Region.

State Sen. Robert, Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, criticized Gov. Cuomo for changing the rules for the reopening and creating so much uncertainty for businesses.

“This shows a contemptuous disrespect to small businesses and underscores the absurdly arbitrary nature of one man running the state’s economy,” Ortt said in a statement this evening. “Worse than the lead-up to Phase One, where businesses anxiously awaited the state’s guidelines on how to reopen, is the Governor reversing – without explanation – his own reopening policy mere hours before thousands of businesses planned to reopen their doors and pick up the pieces of economic wreckage.

“Whether it’s fixing our broken unemployment system, protecting our most vulnerable in nursing homes, or stimulating our devastated economy, Democrats in the State Legislature seem perfectly content to provide the Governor with sole possession of state policy-making. Even though Senate and Assembly Democrats refused to reassert their powers yesterday, I believe that this further highlights the need for constitutional balance to the Governor’s unchecked edicts.”

Jason Garnar, Broome County executive, said his region, which includes Binghamton, was expecting to reopen in Phase 2 on Friday, but the approval didn’t come.

“This is absolutely frustrating,” Garnar said on Twitter. “The people of Broome County did everything they were asked to do. Our local businesses cannot wait any longer.”

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