New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated on a radio show Thursday evening that phase two of the reopening process for the eligible regions of the state would not begin Friday as local officials and businesses had previously been planning for.
Retail stores, hair salons and barbershops had been preparing to reopen their doors after over two months of shutdowns due to the coronavirus, as had been laid out in reopening guidelines provided by the state.
However, the Democratic governor suggested in a Thursday afternoon radio interview that five regions of the state would not enter phase two on Friday morning, and he would instead give the past two weeks of COVID-19 data to experts to review and determine if his state can continue to reopen.
“The reopening of the first five regions ends tomorrow when the reopening of phase one ends,” Cuomo told WAMC-FM.
“We’ll give the experts all the data. It’s posted on the web, but let them analyze it. And if they say we should move forward, we move forward.”
Local officials were surprised by Cuomo’s comments because they hadn’t heard anything from the governor’s office at that time, the Observer-Dispatch reported.
“Look, the governor can make that comment to someone on the radio but we can’t get a call from the governor’s office?” Chemung County Executive Chris Moss said.
“You know what, we’re opening tomorrow.”
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon told reporters shortly before the radio interview that he believed the Central New York region would begin phase two on Friday, but didn’t expect to hear that from the governor.
“But there were rules that were communicated,” he said. “It’s a data-driven process and the data says go.”
The state had laid out a four-phase reopening plan, with each phase lasting approximately two weeks.
Each region had to meet seven data benchmarks to show a decrease in hospitalizations and deaths as well as available testing.
The first five regions met those benchmarks and began reopening on May 15, with four other regions starting the process shortly after.
Because Cuomo has said that he can extend or shorten each phase, there has been some confusion about reopening guidelines, which Democratic Cuomo ally and Broome County Executive Jason Garnar has called “frustrating.”
Panels of local leaders received word during Thursday evening calls that phase two would not proceed Friday, according to the Observer-Dispatch.
Local officials received Cuomo’s executive order extending phase one to all regions except New York City and not initiating phase two on Friday morning.
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. said the governor’s decision was “misguided,” according to WNBC.
“This is some seriously disturbing behavior being exhibited by this Governor,” Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin tweeted.
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