COVID-19

As Phase Two begins, county executive visits downtown areas

A haircut in Wyandanch. Shopping in downtown Huntington and Port Jefferson. Lunch in Smithtown. A brew in Patchogue.

Who could forget an ice cream cone at Snowflake in Riverhead?

To mark the first day of Phase 2 of reopening on Long Island, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone visited several downtown areas Wednesday, including a stop at the iconic West Main Street ice cream shop in Riverhead.

It was a break from tradition for the county executive, who has spent each day since March 9 giving daily press briefings on the COVID-19 virus.

The start of Phase 2 — as retail, professional services, finance and insurance, hair salons, barbershops and outdoor dining reopened — marked a “turning point,” Mr. Bellone said as he enjoyed a chocolate ice cream cone.

“This Phase Two reopening is a huge amount of economic activity coming back in the system,” he said. “We’ve been through really a hellish experience in this county.”

Snowflake was his second to last stop on the tour of Suffolk downtowns.

He said each downtown he visited was humming with excitement.

“You can really feel it … The energy and the excitement of both business to be back open and operating and the public to be downtown, back at their favorite stores again. It really is a day of great promise and reflects the incredible progress we’ve made,” Mr. Bellone said.

Riverhead officials, including Police Chief David Hegermiller and Supervisor Yvette Aguiar joined Mr. Bellone for ice cream on what she called an “exciting” day for Riverhead.

“When we went into the emergency status for the pandemic, it felt like our town was taken away from us—controlled by all the regulations, the governor, FEMA,” she said.

“Now we have to build. Unfortunately if we see a spike, and that’s a possibility, we may have to revert. But we’re excited. We’re finally getting our town back.”

To cap off the day, the county executive headed to the Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue.

“After being cooped up for three months in our makeshift war room, it’s a pretty good day,” he said.

Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, County Executive Steve Bellone and police Chief David Hegermiller enjoy some ice cream Wednesday. (Credit: Tara Smith)