Cuomo phase 2 announcement causes confusion

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Friday said the North Country and four other regions are allowed to move forward with phase 2 business openings Friday.

State officials late Thursday caused confusion when they put a last minute hold on the reopening Friday, saying public health experts still needed to review incoming data.

Cuomo on Friday reversed course, saying data on the five regions -- including the North Country, Finger Lakes, Central NY, Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier -- has been reviewed by county, regional & state officials as well as global experts in virology. "We wanted to make sure the data was reviewed by all the experts," Cuomo said.

Pubic officials and business leaders from across the state said the the last minute delay caused needless.

"Though the unexpected delay was frustrating, this green light is good news on two fronts," North Country Chamber of Commerce president Garry Douglas said in a statement. "First and foremost, it's good news because it means that the North Country is continuing to perform well on all of the health related criteria. And it's good news for all of the Phase Two businesses and organizations in the North Country who can now begin to re-open or, as in the case of retail, to expand their allowed activity."

On Twitter, Congresswoman Elsie Stefanik said that small businesses are barely hanging on and have invested in COVID-19 preparations to safely update their operations.

Assemblyman Billy Jones also went on Twitter and says it's unfair and frustrating after officials and businesses have met the criteria to open.

Phase 2 allows for the opening of businesses including real estate, in-store retail, vehicle sales, commercial building management and hair salons and barbershops. All must follow strict health guidelines.

Cuomo says New York City is on track to begin reopening June 8 as the state gradually loosens restrictions put in place during the coronavirus crisis. He says the city is meeting goals set for hospital rates and testing, will “stockpile” personal protective equipment and will focus on infection rates in hot spots by ZIP code.