Gov. Cuomo: Long Island could begin to reopen Wednesday

One day after allowing construction staging to begin on Long Island, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that the region could possibly enter Phase 1 of reopening on Wednesday.

It’s the first time the governor has given an actual date for reopening Long Island, one of just three New York State regions that has not yet begun to come on NY on Pause, the shutdown of businesses deemed non-essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A 14-day decline in hospital deaths and the need for contact tracers remain the only key metrics for reopening Long Island has not hit.

“The number of deaths are dropping,” Mr. Cuomo said during his briefing at the NYS Executive Mansion Saturday. “We could open by Wednesday if the number of deaths continue to decline and we get tracing up.”

Phase 1 allows for construction, manufacturing and limited curbside retail to return, among other uses.

In a letter to the governor, town supervisors from each of Long Island’s towns on Friday called for the governor to adjust the reopening metrics. Specifically, they said the decline in regional deaths was disproportionate to Long Island.

“All regions of the state should be on a level playing field when it comes to deciding when they’re ready to reopen, but one metric is fundamentally unfair to more populous regions like Long Island,” said Southampton
Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who first raised the issue with fellow supervisors, according to a press release. “If this metric were adjusted for population we would already be meeting it.”

Long Island wasn’t the only area offered a glimmer of hope for reopening Saturday. The mid-Hudson region could begin to reopen as soon as Tuesday, the governor said. If both regions hit those targets, it would leave New York City’s five boroughs as the only area of the state not to at least start reopening.

The governor was also asked during Saturday’s briefing when regions would begin to enter Phase 2 of reopening, which allows for a full retail reopening, real estate and professional services. He declined to say Phase 2 would take place two weeks after Phase 1 in the different regions.

“Phase 2 is more a judgement call,” Mr. Cuomo said. “‘Have the numbers stabilized?’ ‘To the extent there is an increase, can you explain the increase?’ Or ‘Is the increase problematic.’ I don’t know that there is a hard rule for Phase 2.”