An executive order issued Thursday night by Governor Andrew Cuomo began the process of reopening some sectors of the economy in New York for 35 upstate counties.
Spread over five regions, the order in essence expands what is considered an “essential” business during the pandemic to businesses in construction, manufacturing and some retail for curbside customer pickup.
But a large part of the state still remains under the “pause” order, including New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, the Capital Region and western New York.
Areas not included in the Thursday order can qualify “without further revision and will be permitted to re-open phase one industries, subject to the same terms and conditions.”
But at the same time, the order also extends the pause to May 28 for regions yet to qualify.
Regions could qualify for the first reopening phase before that date, however.
The order closing non-essential businesses has been in place since March in order to halt the spread of coronavirus in the state.
Since then, the virus has killed more than 20,000 people and the economic crisis has resulted in record-setting job losses across New York.
“Phase one” of the gradual reopening has been approved for the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, North Country, central New York and Mohawk Valley regions of the state.
The qualifying counties for the first phase include: Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, Yates, Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, Oswego, Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, Schoharie, Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence.
The regions have hit key benchmarks to qualify for the first round of reopening, including declining hospitalization rates, hospital capacity of at least 30 percent to handle new COVID cases should they arise.
Cuomo in Syracuse on Thursday vowed the reopening will be closely monitored by state and local officials for signs of new coronavirus cases.