Region set to reopen starting Friday

Gov. Andrew Cuomo details the state’s phased reopening process during an update Monday in Monroe County.

IRONDEQUOIT — The Finger Lakes region will be ready to reopen starting Friday.

The region, which includes Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming and Livingston counties, has met all seven of the state’s metrics. The first phase will start with businesses considered essential and low-risk, which include construction; manufacturing and wholesale supply chain; retail businesses using curbside pickup; and forestry, fishing and agriculture.

As part of the process, businesses will still need to take precautions. If necessary, they’ll be required to adjust workplace hours and shifts, while maintaining social distance, restricting non-essential travel, and using masks if employees have frequent contact with others.

Strict cleaning and sanitation standards will also be required, along with continued health screening for employees entering the workplace. Continuous tracing, tracking and reporting is also part of the equation.

New York will also be reopening certain low-risk businesses and recreational facilities statewide on Friday including: landscaping and gardening, outdoor low-risk recreational activities like tennis, and drive-in movie theaters.

“It’s an exciting new phase,” Cuomo said. “We’re all anxious to get back to work we want to do it smartly, we want to do it anxiously, but we want to do it.”

Cuomo said the local governments and local officials need to have testing and tracking in place as well as monitoring hospitalization and infection rates. They’ll also need to ensure business compliance and communicate with other local governments.

“There is also something we call a regional control room, which is made up of the top officials — government officials, academic officials, healthcare professionals — that are watching the situation in that region develop,” he said. “You are going to increase activity. Depending on how intelligently you increase activity will be the possible effect on the spread of the virus. You need to know what the impact is, you need to know it in real time, and you need to be in a position to respond.”

If there is an increase in infection, the region needs to be able to pull the plug or slow down the increases in activity.

Several area officials are part of the regional control room are Orleans County Chairwoman Lynne Johnson, Genesee County Chairwoman Shelly Stein, Wyoming County Chairman Jerry Davis and Livingston County Chairman David LeFeber.

Johnson said the businesses in the region are ready, but it is far more complicated to reopen than it is to shut down.

“We must be smart, but the businesses are definitely ready,” she said. “The region is definitely ready. We have to monitor on four core factors.”

Johnson said the region needs to continue reducing the spread of COVID-19 and has to focus on reopening, while being very careful that the strides taken aren’t erased.

“We obviously have that hot spot here in Orleans County at The Village of Orleans we’re being very careful of,” she said. “It’s a very terrible situation. So we just have to encourage everyone to wear their masks and don’t infect more people. I think people are very respectful of that. So the trend is promising, and hopefully it holds.”

Local manufacturing companies and construction companies will need a plan in place to keep both employees and the general public safe, said Chairman Jerry Davis of the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors. He said the county has a task force to help with the process.

Phase II, when it arrives, will focus on professional services; finance and insurance; retail; administrative support; and real estate/retail lending. Restaurants and hotels will follow in Phase III.

Entertainment establishments and schools are slated to be part of Phase IV.

(Includes reporting by Matt Surtel.)

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