WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WCAX) New York's North Country will be the fourth region to gradually reopen, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday. North Country business leaders called the much anticipated announcement welcome news.
Governor Cuomo was in Watertown Wednesday to announce the North Country region has checked off all seven CDC recommended COVID related measures needed to start phase one of reopening this Friday.
"We are opening based off the metrics they gave us -- we hit seven out of seven," Cuomo said.
The businesses eligible to start opening their doors are low-risk manufacturing, construction, retail curbside pickup, wholesale trade, and the some in the agriculture industry.
"Before they can reopen, they must have a health and safety plan," said Garry Douglas with the North Country Chamber of Commerce.
He says those who want to reopen, regardless of which phase, will need a health and safety plan and it needs to be easily accessible for the public to see on a moments notice. Douglas recommends each business appoint a person on staff to handle all things health and safety and be the one to update other staff of any new protocols.
"It's going to kind of be self-certifying. You are going to do it but then it's going to be subject to review at anytime on your site. You need to have this before opening your doors," Douglas said.
The select businesses in phase one can light up their open signs starting on Friday, but it's up in the air as to when phase two can start.
"These phases are going to be spread two, three potentially more weeks apart depending on how things go," said Erin Streiff with the Clinton County Health Department.
Cuomo stressed that reopening needs to be done the right way in order to avoid any resurgence in cases.That calls for monitoring of the virus's rate of transmission and could mean it's some time before the region is fully reopened. "Government can't do any of this, this is a function of the actions of every individual and every family," Cuomo said.
"If we see a spike in cases, everything goes on hold until we can understand what's causing that spike, stop it, and then proceed," Streiff said.
The region needs to maintain those seven criteria needed to stay open and the state is stepping in to make sure the region has what it needs to maintain the testing requirements.
"We are working with the county leadership to make sure they have the tests kits and they are able to stay above that 419 number," said Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor.