Coronavirus News: Mid-Hudson Region preps for Phase 1 reopening Tuesday

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Businesses in New York's Mid-Hudson Region are preparing to enter Phase 1 reopening Tuesday, with Long Island not far behind.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that the Mid-Hudson Region, including Westchester and Rockland counties, had already met the criteria for the decline in the number of deaths but needed to train additional contact tracers in order to begin Phase 1 of the New York Forward Reopening plan.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day said they would be ready.

"We have been doing everything humanly possible to meet New York's reopening criteria from identifying and training these employees to working with our local businesses to ensure they are ready to go," he said. "Thank you to our county employees here and those elsewhere in our region which have stepped up to help us meet this goal and begin reopening."

Businesses in Phase 1 include:
--Construction
--Manufacturing
--Retail - Curbside Pickup
--Wholesale Trade
--Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting

And after two months of empty chairs and empty tables at restaurants in downtown Yonkers, there is anxious anticipation at La Bella Havana.

The Cuban restaurant plans to offer limited outdoor dining Tuesday, even though that clearance doesn't kick in until the next phase of re-opening.

"First, we are going to clean all the area," owner Pedro Santana said. "Then we are going to put in some divisions, some kind of divisions between the customers. A part of this, we are going to take a measurement so the distance is done properly."

Santana and other restaurateurs got the outdoor-dining green light with a little help from Yonkers City Hall.

"I signed an executive order that would allow them use of the sidewalk and allow them use of the parking spaces on the street as well, so that we can get the businesses up and running," Mayor Mike Spano said.

Like Cuomo, Spano has had to tamp down the raring-to-go excitement of many retailers and business owners who want to proceed full-steam-ahead. Instead, "slowly, steadily, safely" is the approach both leaders agree on.

"Our numbers are going down," Cuomo said. "The rest of the country, the numbers are going up. Why? Because they never took it seriously. Reopen too fast, reopen without monitoring, reopen without controls, the numbers go up."

The Mid-Hudson area covers the stretch of New York state north of New York City and south of Albany, and also includes Putnam, Dutchess, Ulster, Orange and Sullivan counties.

Cuomo also said the number of deaths continues to drop in Nassau County and Suffolk County, and they are on track to meet the criteria.

The governor said Long Island also needs to ramp up its training of contact tracers but could reopen as early as Wednesday.

Phase 1 is expected to last for roughly two weeks, which the CDC believes is the incubation period for COVID-19. But Phase 2, which would allow for the reopening of professional services, retail, administrative support and real estate including renting and leasing, could begin sooner if the number of cases is stable.

In Phase 3, restaurants and other food services will be allowed to reopen. Finally, Phase 4 would allow for arts, entertainment, recreation and education to open once again.

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