The tri-state area has plowed forward with its reopening process after a months-long shutdown. While the region is far from a return to pre-pandemic times, increasing steps are being taken to safely return to a new sense of normal.
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut all have slightly different strategies, but all focus on a singular objective: Protect public health, revive the economy.
On June 22, New York City became the last of the state's 10 regions to enter Phase II, allowing outdoor dining and businesses like barbershops and retail to open once again. City beaches are set to open July 1 for swimming and sunbathing, and there will be 15 city pools opening by August 1. Mayor Bill de Blasio also said the city is on track to move to Phase III on July 6 — however, without indoor dining, that is. Both de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo officially announced during separate briefings Wednesday that the city will postpone indoor dining indefinitely, citing soaring infection rates tied to bars and restaurants in a growing number of U.S. states.
The rest of the state is already in Phase III.
Here's a look at which businesses and activities are included in New York's reopening phases. (If you need help determining whether your business is eligible, click here.)
Here's the breakdown of businesses that can reopen in Phase I:
- Building Equipment Contractors
- Building Finishing Contractors
- Foundation, Structure, and Building Exterior Contractors
- Highway, Street and Bridge Construction
- Land Subdivision
- Nonresidential Building Construction
- Residential Building Construction
- Utility System Construction
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting
- Greenhouse, Nursery, and Floriculture Production
- Other Animal Production
- Other Crop Production
- Support Activities for Animal Production
- Support Activities for Crop Production
- Support Activities for Forestry
Phase One includes delivery and curbside pick-up service only for the following businesses:
- Clothing Stores
- Direct Selling Establishments
- Electronics and Appliance Stores
- Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses
- Furniture and Home Furnishing Stores
- General Merchandise Stores
- Health and Personal Care Stores
- Jewelry, Luggage, and Leather Goods Stores
- Lawn and Garden Equipment and Supplies Stores
- Office Supplies, Stationery, and Gift Stores
- Used Merchandise Stores
- Shoe Stores
- Sporting Goods, Hobby, Musical Instrument and Book Stores
- Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers
- Apparel Manufacturing
- Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing
- Electric Lighting Equipment Manufacturing
- Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
- Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing
- Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing
- Machinery Manufacturing
- Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing
- Paper Manufacturing
- Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing
- Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing
- Printing and Related Support Activities
- Textile Mills
- Textile Product Mills
- Wood Product Manufacturing
- Other Miscellaneous Manufacturing
- Apparel, Piece Goods, and Notions Merchant Wholesalers
- Chemical and Allied Products Merchant Wholesalers
- Furniture and Home Furnishing Merchant Wholesalers
- Household Appliances and Electrical and Electronic Goods Merchant Wholesalers
- Machinery, Equipment, and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers
- Metal and Mineral (except Petroleum) Merchant Wholesalers
- Paper and Paper Product Merchant Wholesalers
- Professional and Commercial Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers
- Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers
- Miscellaneous Durable Goods Merchant Wholesalers
- Miscellaneous Nondurable Goods Merchant Wholesalers
As some regions move to Phase II, here is a list of the businesses that can open during this phase. Strict guidelines on capacity and social distancing apply:
- In-person retail operations
- All business activities where the core function takes place within an office setting
- Vehicle sales, leases, and rental activities statewide
- Retail rental, repair, and cleaning activities
- Playgrounds and pools at local governments' discretion
- Commercial, non-residential building management activities
- Hair salons and barbershops. This does not include nail salons, tattoo parlors, or any other non-haircutting-related personal care services or activities, like beard trimming, nose hair trimming, facials, manicures/pedicures, makeup application, threading, tweezing, or waxing.
- Real estate activities
- Outdoor dining
Nine out of the 10 New York regions are in Phase III, with only NYC still behind. Here are the businesses and activities allowed to resume during this phase:
- Restaurants/food service, including food trucks and other food concessions, may open up both indoor and outdoor areas. However, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio said NYC is re-examining its indoor dining guidelines and may not move forward with that component as planned, due to the evidence of heightened risks seen in other states
- Personal care services. This includes non-hair-related personal care businesses and services, including tattoo and piercing facilities, appearance enhancement practitioners, massage therapy, spas, cosmetology, nail specialty, UV and non-UV tanning, or waxing.
- Indoor gatherings of up to 25 people are permitted in this phase
- In NYC, de Blasio says he'll reopen more outdoor recreation like basketball, tennis and handball courts, dog runs, volleyball and Bocce ball
Summer day camps reopened June 29, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, though sleepaway camps will not return this year. Westchester County's outdoor summer camps won't open until the following week, on July 6. Hospital visitations resumed at local discretion on Friday, June 19.
Necessary in-person special education instruction will be allowed this summer, but school districts must follow all state and federal guidance. Low-risk youth sports can begin play July 6 for regions in Phase III of reopening. Cuomo said only two spectators can be present per child. Outdoor activities conducive to social distancing, like golf and tennis, are also permitted, while outdoor graduations can be held with limited capacity as of June 26.
Veterinarian practices and dentists are also open statewide, while professional sports leagues got the go-ahead to begin practicing as well.
As of June 26, five New York regions have entered the fourth and final phase of the state's reopening plan. Here are the businesses and activities allowed to resume during this phase:
- All types of in-person higher education institutions, including but not limited to community and junior colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools, medical schools, and technical schools. Social distancing and facial coverings are mandatory. Higher education institutions must develop and submit a plan for reopening and operating for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment activities including outdoor zoos, botanical gardens, nature parks, grounds of historic sites and cultural institutions, outdoor museums, outdoor agritourism, local agricultural demonstrations and exhibitions; and other similar institutions/activities. Face coverings and social distancing will be mandatory. Social distancing and facial coverings are mandatory. Capacity is restricted to 33 percent.
- Indoor museums, historical sites, aquariums, and other related institutions or activities. Social distancing and facial coverings are mandatory. Capacity is restricted to 25 percent.
- Media production businesses/activities in regions of New York. “Media production activities” encompass all activities undertaken in motion picture, music, television, and streaming productions on set, on location, or at any production or recording site. Social distancing and facial coverings are mandatory. For indoor facilities or locations, employees, cast, and crew members is limited to no more than 50% of the maximum occupancy for a particular area.
Region by Region Status
Source: New York State; Report as of May 18
The Garden State already eased some restrictions across the state in May and more reopenings of non-essential businesses are on the way.
The limit on outdoor gatherings (including the activities listed below) is expected to be raised from 250 people to 500 on July 3. Indoor gatherings are capped at 100 people or 25 percent of a building’s capacity, whichever is lower. That includes houses of worship, but does not include other indoor activities like dining.
Indoor dining at restaurants was postponed indefinitely by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who (along with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo) pointed to overcrowding and social distancing violations in some restaurants and bars, especially along the Jersey Shore, as reasons to reevaluate.
Here's a list of activities or places that have already been able to reopen or start up again:
- Outdoor dining at restaurants
- Hair salons and barbershops
- Child-care services
- In-person retail sales, with each store maintaining a strict 50 percent capacity in order to stay open
- Libraries offering curbside pickup
- State parks and golf courses
- Beaches along the shore
- Municipal and private-club swimming pools
- Cosmetology shops, day/medical spas, massage parlors, tattoo parlors, tanning salons
- Charter fishing services and for-hire vessel activities, as well as watercraft rental businesses, with required social distancing measures
- Organized sports practices, with activities limited to those that can take place outside
- Low-risk sports (golf, tennis) can resume competition, while medium-risk (soccer, baseball, softball) and high-risk (football) sports can start non-contact drills and practices
- All outdoor recreational and entertainment businesses that were previously closed – with the exceptions of amusement parks, water parks and arcades
- Indoor parts of retail shopping malls; face coverings must be worn and all stores are capped at 50 percent capacity. Food courts and common seating areas remain closed, along with theaters and arcades
- In-person sales at car, motorcycle and boat dealerships and bicycle shops
- Batting cages, golf ranges, shooting and archery ranges, horseback riding, private tennis clubs and community gardens
- Recreational campgrounds, public and private
- Outdoor amusement and water parks, including boardwalk rides, can reopen at half capacity, as well as playgrounds
- At 25 percent capacity, the following can reopen: casinos, museums, aquariums, libraries and indoor recreation including bowling alleys, batting cages, shooting ranges and boardwalk arcades. This does not include, movie theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues and nightclubs.
- Elective surgeries and invasive procedures, both medical and dental
- Gyms and fitness centers remain closed, but are allowed to host individualized training by appointment only
- Student driver road tests and vehicle inspection stations
- Outdoor visits to long-term care facilities (nursing homes, assisted living residences, pediatric transitional care homes, comprehensive personal care homes, etc.), with up to two visitors allowed at a time who must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms; visitors must maintain a six-foot distance from residents and wear masks
And here is a list of places or activities that will be opening or restarting again in the near future:
- JULY 3: Limit for number of people allowed to gather outdoors expected to increase to 500
- JULY 6: Schools will be allowed to hold outdoor, socially-distant compliant graduation ceremonies that observe capacity restrictions. Graduations (middle school, high school, college, etc.) must be either outdoors or drive-in/drive-through, with no indoor ceremonies allowed. Also, graduates are asked not to toss their caps.
- JULY 6: Competition for medium-risk sports (soccer, baseball, softball) is expected to resume
- JULY 6: Youth day camps, including municipal recreational programs
- JULY 7: In-person customer service at the Motor Vehicle Commission
- JULY 20: Full practices and competitions for high-risk sports (football) hopeful to return by this date
Connecticut residents can now dine out (outdoors or indoors), go to some retail stores and visit zoos, aquariums and museums — with certain restrictions, of course.
Gov. Ned Lamont ordered a 50 percent capacity limit for businesses that are reopening, including restaurants, spas, tattoo parlors, libraries and more. The businesses will have to implement strict cleaning and disinfection protocols and social distancing rules should still be observed.
Connecticut started Phase 2 of its reopening plan on June 17, which is when more nonessential businesses and other programs launched, including:
- Amusement parks (at 25 percent capacity)
- Hotels and short-term rentals
- Indoor dining (as well as continued outdoor dining)
- Indoor and outdoor museums, zoos and aquariums
- Indoor recreation including bowling, movie theaters, etc.
- Outdoor arts and entertainment events
- Personal services including nail salons, tattoo parlors, etc.
- Sports and fitness facilities including gyms, fitness centers, pools, etc.
- Social clubs
- Driving schools (For on-road training, there can be two people per car, both must wear masks, windows must be rolled down, and thorough cleanings are required between customers)
Lamont released details about the rules that businesses reopen during Phase 2 have to follow. To read specifics about the rules and guidelines for each sector, click here.
All the businesses that can now open must strictly follow rules that allow for social distancing as much as possible. Amusement parks have some of the most regulations, including only allowing 25 percent of capacity in at a time and having to organize lines for rides in a "maze style" to prevent bunching of crowds.
Also as a part of Phase II, indoor gatherings can have up to 25 people and outdoor gatherings can include up to 100 people, while outdoor event venues (like amphitheaters and race tracks) can have 25 percent of capacity, provided social distancing still in tact.
Graduations get a one-time capacity limit increase to 150 on July 3, while larger outdoor spaces hosting events (like for fireworks or concerts in a park) can have up to 500 people, provided there is 15 feet of space between blankets.
Hair salons and barbershops were initially included in Phase 1 of Connecticut’s reopening plan, but after extensive discussions with owners and employees of those businesses, Lamont pushed those reopenings to June 1 in coordination with Rhode Island. The states casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, reopened on June 1. Summer camps opened three weeks later, on June 22.
Connecticut also outlined their plans that would require all schools to bring students back into the classroom in the fall. The plan consists of schools using a "cohorting" system, which would keep the same students in small groups based on classrooms. Those students would function separately from other groups in the school, according to the education commissioner, who admitted that the system might be difficult for high schools.
Schools would need to maximize social distancing and all students and staff would have to wear face masks that cover the nose and mouth, Cardona said. School hallways would be rerouted to be one direction, students would be recommended to eat lunch in their classrooms or outside whenever possible, and districts would be encouraged to use gymnasiums or auditoriums to potentially alleviate classroom size and promote social distancing. School buses would be used at full or nearly full capacity.