New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that outdoor dining at restaurants will be allowed in Phase 2 of reopening following the novel coronavirus shutdown.
Restaurants in the seven regions that have already entered the second phase — the Capital Region, Central New York, the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, the Southern Tier, and Western New York — are permitted to reopen outdoor dining on Thursday, June 4. Outdoor tables must be spaced six feet apart, and all staff must wear face coverings. Customers will also have to wear face coverings when they are not seated at a table.
Long Island, which began Phase 1 of New York Forward, the state’s reopening plan, last Wednesday, May 27, is one week away from Phase 2, at most, according to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. The reopening guidelines suggest two weeks before moving between phases, but Bellone said he is still hopeful the county could see that accelerated as COVID-19 figures continue their downward trajectory on the Island.
Last week, Bellone issued an executive order that allows the Suffolk County Department of Health Services to automatically approve expansions when restaurants look to add seating outdoors, even if it is not currently permitted, as a way to help restaurants survive during the pandemic. Restaurants have been limited to takeout and delivery since mid-March, and reopening to serving seated guests, even outdoors, was only mapped out to begin again in Phase 3. Even then, restaurants will be relegated to 50 percent of their regular capacity to allow for social distancing.
Restaurants will still need local approval for extra outdoor seats, in part because many will be looking for use of municipal sidewalks. The executive order ensures that none of the county approvals hinder a business from expanding its seating outdoors.
“We are very happy to see this progress on outdoor dining moving forward,” Bellone said.
Easier Way To Report Anti-Bias Crimes
“These are perilous times. There’s a lot going on and we have to understand what’s going on and the difference among the issues that we’re dealing with,” Cuomo said Wednesday during his daily press briefing. “You have the COVID crisis, you have the murder of Mr. Floyd — two very different situations, but both critical in and of themselves and both happening at the same time.”
Bellone also announced that starting Wednesday, people will be able to dial 311, the information line being used during the COVID-19 pandemic, to report anti-bias and hate crimes. The line is being expanded so that operators can take calls about acts of bias and discrimination and conduct “a warm transfer” to the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission, he said.
“Hate, bias, bigotry, discrimination have no safe haven in Suffolk County,” Bellone said. “Now more than ever as we come together, and the nation continues to mourn the horrific killing of George Floyd, and the discussions about the need for change continues, we need to stand united.”
“We stand for good, fair, just, equitable government in Suffolk County,” he continued. “We will continue to fight discrimination and root out hate at its core here in this county.”
Bellone said that there were seven protests in Suffolk on Tuesday.
“Once again, I’m very proud to say that those protests — the demonstrations we have seen in this county — have been peaceful. They really represent a contrast of events that have transpired in other communities in our country,” he said. “That is again a credit to the people who are demonstrating, the people who are protesting and the Suffolk County Police Department,” as well as other law enforcement agencies, he said.
The reality, he said, is, “the protesting is righteous indignation over Mr. Floyd’s murder and systemic racism and injustice,” Bellone said. “You listen to their point — I think they’re right. You look at Mr. Floyd’s murder on television and it is reprehensible. There is no police officer in this nation that would defend that.”