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Local lawmakers say it’s time to start phasing-in economic activity by region in NYS

While Governor Andrew Cuomo says New York needs at least another month before the economy can be unpaused, some state lawmakers are weighing in, asserting that the time is sooner than he suggests.

“Unpausing New York and reopening our economy is going to be an ongoing process over the coming weeks that we’re working through with other states, but we have to do it in a way that doesn’t drive up the infection rate and create a second wave of the virus,” Cuomo said during his briefing. “We have shown that we can control the spread of the virus, but we can’t now undo all the progress we’ve made.”

Senator Pam Helming, R-54, says keeping people safe and healthy is top priority, but that easing restrictions so businesses can begin getting people to work is also important. “Part of that is working to support the individuals, farms and businesses that have been devastated by the COVID pandemic. The numbers are clear, our state economy is literally on pause because of COVID, and it is devastating family finances and job-creating businesses,” she said.

Helming doesn’t want to see a one-size fits all approach for the entire state. Like many, she believes parts of the state can reopen.

Senator Tom O’Mara, R-58, agreed with that sentiment.

“I agree with our local public health experts and professionals on the frontline, who have been working around clock, that public health remains the top priority,” he said. “We can’t risk letting up and taking steps that will make this nightmare worse. The incredible personal responsibility that citizens across this region have shown following the New York on Pause guidelines has made all the difference and helped protect our communities. The risk is real, and we need to keep holding the line.”

He says it’s time to start looking at a phase-in approach to restarting the economy. ““It is time to start looking ahead and planning for a phased-in ramp-up of the regional economy by delivering specific and strategic plans for manufacturers and others employers to bring employees back to work within the necessary distancing and testing recommendations and precautions. I support this two-pronged approach moving forward, and hope to hear more on these plans in the coming days,” he said.

Assemblyman Brian Kolb, R-131, agreed. “It should be a regional approach,” he said by email. “The Finger Lakes is not New York City. We need to begin the process of getting more New Yorkers back to work, particularly in the manufacturing, construction and agricultural industries. With rigorous cleaning, widespread mask-wearing and serious social distancing requirements, I believe that we could do so safely.”

Assemblyman Brian Manktelow, R-130, agreed. “The economy Upstate is so fragile,” he said. The Assemblyman says the region is driven by small businesses and restaurants, which have been devastated by the pandemic and shutdown.