After months of an economic shutdown amid the pandemic, New York’s downstate regions are starting to reopen.
New York’s mid-Hudson region — featuring many rural towns in the valley that are also popular summer and fall destinations for New Yorkers — will begin reopening today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced. Long Island is slated to start reopening tomorrow after the region’s contact tracing operation is fully up and running.
Now that the mid-Hudson region is in phase one of reopening, low-contact industries like construction and manufacturing can cautiously restart work. Restaurants won’t be allowed to reopen their dining rooms until the region reaches phase three of reopening — although trade group the New York State Restaurant Association has been lobbying for the state government to allow for outdoor dining in phase two of reopening.
Each region has to stay in a holding pattern for at least two weeks before it is allowed to pass into a subsequent phase, to make sure that the number of COVID-19 cases don’t spike again as the region reopens.
After Long Island opens up, New York City will be the only region in the state that remains under a full shutdown. At this point, the city has hit five out of the seven daily indicators that it needs to check off before reopening can begin, including declines in net COVID-19 hospitalizations and a continuous drop in new hospitalizations.
In a daily press conference on Tuesday, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that the city is on target to start reopening in the first or second week of June. “The work for preparing for the restart is going on every day,” de Blasio said.
Once the city moves into the first phase of reopening, industries including construction, manufacturing, wholesale businesses, and retail with curbside pickup will be allowed to resume. In the current structure, the earliest that restaurants in New York City would be able to start reopening their dining rooms would be early or mid-July.
But even as restaurants reopen, business is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels for months after that.
Many states have limited dining room capacity to 50 percent or lower to minimize contact among diners, a health-safety move that some restaurants have said makes their business financially unsustainable. Union Square Hospitality Group’s Danny Meyer has said that he might not open some restaurants until there is a vaccine because of the expected heavy operating restrictions. And Broadway shows — a major traffic-driver for Midtown restaurants — might not return until January.