Governor Andrew Cuomo cleared Long Island to proceed with Phase 2 of reopening under New York Forward beginning Wednesday, June 10.
“This is a huge step forward for us in Suffolk County, for the Long Island region,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said during his COVID-19 briefing Tuesday, adding that the governor’s announcement was “another great indication of the incredible progress we have made since we reached the peak of this crisis, this global pandemic.”
“It is needed. We need to get people back to work. We need to get our economy moving,” he said.
Many different types of economic activity may start up again, including in-store retail, car sales, and professional offices. Hair salons and barbershops may also open their doors. “I can tell you I have not seen so many people this excited about the prospect of getting a haircut or going to a salon as I’ve seen over the last week or so. That’s including me — I am planning on getting a hair cut tomorrow,” Bellone said with a laugh.
Outdoor dining is also allowed to resume in Phase 2, though dining at restaurants indoors is currently not permitted until Phase 3.
“These are all things that give us a sense of normalcy even in these abnormal times,” the county executive said.
The COVID-19 numbers continue to progress in a positive direction. Hospitalizations continue to decline. Currently there are 155 coronavirus patients in Suffolk hospitals, 47 of which are in intensive care units. Suffolk has 63 percent of its hospital beds available and 53 percent of its ICU beds open.
To date, 40,426 people have tested positive in Suffolk for the virus, while an additional 15,856 have tested positive for the COVID-19 antibodies.
Suffolk County has not yet seen a day when the county executive has not reported a COVID-19 fatality since the third week of March. Four more people died on Monday, bringing the total up to 1939 deaths attributed to the virus.
Asked when he expects Long Island will move to the third phase of reopening, Bellone said he would like to see it accelerated, but understands the parameters call for a two-week gap between phases. “I think the expectation should be that it is two weeks . . . there is a reason for that. Epidemiologists say that’s the time period you really need to see if there is an uptick in cases, if there is a change in the number,” he said, but added county officials will look to see if there are any types of activities that it can accelerate, just as it pushed the state to allow outdoor dining earlier than it was initially expected.
Government officials and business leaders are kicking off the reopening of outdoor dining in Southampton Village on Wednesday. Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, Discover Long Island President/CEO Kristen Jarnagin, Douglas Elliman CEO Dottie Herman will be joined by local merchants outside of 75 Main for a champagne toast to celebrate at 11:30 AM.
“As more regions across the state continue with the reopening process, New Yorkers should remember it was because of their hard work that we have been able to bend the curve and reopen this quickly, and all individuals should continue to follow the necessary guidelines and precautions to help prevent a renewed increase in the spread of the virus,” Cuomo said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.