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Cuomo says regional approach for reopening will be taken; Republicans release plan to make it happen

Governor Andrew Cuomo says New York will take a regional approach to reopening the state.

Under the concept, different parts of the state will open at different times – based on a variety of health factors. In particular, infection rate will be a major component.

It was a 24 hour shift for the Governor, who said on Monday that reopening would have to be an across the board effort, because “it affects everyone else.”

Republican lawmakers released a plan to reopen the economy, which was signed-off on by Upstate New York representatives.

“Manhattan is not Buffalo,” Cuomo said on Tuesday. “Let’s use that same regional template when we talk about re-opening. Let’s look at the numbers on the COVID virus, let’s look at the hospitalization rate.”

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul will lead that effort for Western New York, while former Lt. Governor Bob Duffy, who leads the Rochester Chamber of Commerce was selected to lead the effort in the Finger Lakes.

The plan proposed by Republican lawmakers says New York must take a common-sense, regional approach to begin to restart the economy, and have a plan to take this step by April 30th.

It outlines the following:

Each region of the state has different levels of infection and of population density, creating the possible scenario where some areas are reopened while others remain closed.

– The New York State Department of Health, working in conjunction with county health departments, must establish a formula to permit the reopening of non-essential businesses in regions that have experienced low numbers of COVID-19 cases.

– Under this formula, DOH and local health departments would calculate a percentage of confirmed cases and hospitalizations over a two-week period per 1,000 residents.

– If that percentage is below a number determined to be safe by DOH, then non-essential businesses in that region should be permitted to reopen at 25 percent capacity for a two- week period.

– That capacity percentage would continue to increase every two weeks as long as infection rates remain flat or decline.

– The state should evaluate businesses’ ability to implement proper social-distancing protocols, and establish risk levels for each in order to best protect workers and customers.

– Working in collaboration, state and local agencies would establish proper social distancing practices for businesses in each region to begin opening.

– Guidance on social distancing practices and a comprehensive list of all essential businesses would be posted on all major agency sites.

A list of proper social distancing practices would include:

– Ensuring business capacity maintains 6-foot buffer zones.

– Requiring face coverings.

– Prioritize opportunities to deliver services or products by appointment whenever feasible, rather than create the potential for customers gathering in lines, groups, or waiting rooms.

– Prioritizing online payment over cashiers when feasible.

– Requiring telecommuting when feasible to protect employees and customers.

– Making hand sanitizer and/or wash stations available to employees and customers.

– Utilizing school facilities for child-care with safety protocols in place.

– Implementing a shut-off valve policy to immediately but temporarily close a
business when employees come into contact with an infected person.

– Allowing businesses still deemed non-essential to propose a social distancing plan to ESD and DOH for approval to reopen.

The panel would consist of the president and CEO of Empire State Development; 10 regional directors from ESD; directors of the Division of Budget; Commissioners of Health, Labor and Agriculture and Markets; and one appointee each from the Assembly Speaker, Senate Majority Leader, Minority Leaders of the Assembly and Senate.