Allowing outdoor dining ahead of Phase 3 ‘under review,’ state officials say

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and budget director Robert Mujica said on Friday that officials are still examining the possibility of outdoor dining being allowed ahead of the current third phase of the New York Forward reopening plan.

“We’re still looking at those guidelines and we haven’t decided yet,” Mr. Mujica said during the governor’s press briefing in response to a question about outdoor dining. Restaurants are currently listed as Phase 3 in the reopening plan, which could mean late June for Long Island, although there is no specific timeline.

The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce issued a call for people to be “relentless” in reaching out to elected officials to urge them to argue for the governor to allow outdoor dining. Restaurants have been limited to takeout and delivery.

Riverhead Town proposed temporary outdoor dining legislation this week in conjunction with the Business Improvement District Management Association and the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce, that “will allow for restaurants to provide outside dining while maintaining all social distance protocols as mandated by the CDC and the state Department of Health,” according to Supervisor Yvette Aguiar.

“There’s a possibility that you could separate outdoor dining,” Mr. Mujica said. “It’s a little different depending on which part of the state and what access you have to sidewalks and spaces for outdoor dining. But that’s something that is under review.”

Mr. Cuomo said officials need to review guidelines further and there would be questions about the size of sidewalks, the volume of people and whether they are socially distancing.

Greenport Village is moving forward with a plan to restrict some parking spaces to create more outdoor seating space for restaurants on sidewalks.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Friday he is involved in conversations and communicating with the state on outdoor dining.

The governor announced Friday that five upstate regions have now entered Phase 2 of the reopening. Long Island started the first phase on Wednesday.

“Their data has been reviewed and the experts say to us it’s safe to move forward because people have been smart and you haven’t seen the spike,” Mr. Cuomo said.

Mr. Cuomo outlined more details about the guidelines for the second phase, which include office-based jobs, real estate services and retail.

Some guidelines for office buildings include:

• 50% occupancy.

• Mandatory employee daily screenings.

• Masks, plexi-glass or other barriers if six feet cannot be maintained.

• No meetings without social distancing

• No communal sharing of food or beverages.

Similar guidelines are in place for retail stores. The governor said stores have the right to deny entry to a customer who is not wearing a mask.

“You don’t have the right to infect a store owner,” Mr. Cuomo said. “You don’t have a right to infect other customers in the store and you don’t have the right to walk into a store and all the other customers run out because you don’t have a face mask.”

The governor also talked about guidelines for barbershops and hair salons. He said employees interacting with customers must be tested for COVID-19 at least once every two weeks. Those employees should be tested before reopening, although it’s not mandatory.

Mr. Cuomo said he would recommend customers inquire with the person performing the service to find out if they have been tested.

Additional details on Phase 2 guidelines can be found here.

“Part of the intelligence of the system is you don’t go from zero to 60 mph,” Mr. Cuomo said. “You go from zero to 20 mph.”

The number of fatalities linked to COVID-19 on May 28 in the state were 67 (eight in Suffolk County). It was the fifth straight day that fatalities in the state were under 100. In Suffolk County, there are now fewer than 300 people hospitalized with COVID-19, a mark on par with the third week of March, Mr. Bellone said. There were an additional 86 confirmed cases reported in the last 24 hours. Mr. Bellone said keeping that number under 100 is key.