What to Know
- Outdoor dining can resume Thursday for regions in Phase II, Cuomo said Wednesday; NYC is on track to enter Phase I on Monday
- Wednesday also marked the day with the least number of deaths due to COVID-19 that New York has seen since the start of the pandemic.
- New Jersey also will allow outdoor dining to resume in Stage 2 of its reopening, which it is expected to enter on June 15
Gov. Andrew Cuomo quietly added outdoor dining to the list of activities that can resume in Phase II Wednesday, noting the adjustment in a midday press release rather than in his daily briefing.
The seven New York regions already in Phase II can resume al fresco dining Thursday, the governor said. Those regions include the latest newcomer, the Capital Region, along with the Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier and Western New York regions.
New Jersey also allows outdoor dining in Stage 2 of its reopening, which it is expected to enter on June 15. Connecticut OK'd it as part of its first major statewide reopening steps more than a week ago. Restrictions on capacity apply.
In New York, outdoor tables must be spaced 6 feet apart, all staff must wear face coverings and customers must wear face coverings when not seated.
It's the latest indicator of progress in New York's ongoing battle against the coronavirus. Cuomo said Wednesday the state saw its lowest daily death toll amid the pandemic the day before (49). More than 24,000 confirmed virus deaths have been reported statewide, the bulk of those in New York City.
Tracking Coronavirus in Tri-State
New York City, the one-time epicenter of the national crisis, remains on track to begin its reopening process on Monday, June 8. Steps are already being taken in preparation for this reopening, including the MTA announcing plans to return to full service on the day the city enters Phase I.
As some regions move to Phase II, certain businesses can now open during this phase, although strict guidelines on capacity and social distancing apply. The businesses allowed to reopen under this phase are:
- 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
- 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
Another activity recently added under Phase II reopenings: dining al fresco -- same as New Jersey.
With coronavirus deaths continuing to decline in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed hope that the state is approaching a level where fatalities are perhaps not eliminated but are very few.
Cuomo said Monday the level of positivity is down, citing that the state conducted about 50,000 coronavirus tests Sunday, with less than 1,000 coming back as positive.
"That is the lowest number we have had since this began and when we began we were only doing 3,000 or 4,000 tests," Cuomo said Monday. "The progress is just phenomenal."
Monday also marked the first day that dentists statewide could reopen.
Another sign that the fight against coronavirus is moving in the right direction? Summer day camps will reopen June 29, Cuomo announced Tuesday. However, the state has not decided yet on whether sleep-away camps will resume.
To date, New York has seen more than 373,000 cases and more than 24,000 deaths.
Region by Region Status
Source: New York State; Report as of May 18
New Jersey Sets Opening Dates for Stage 2; Shares Review of Nursing Homes
New Jersey is on track to enter Stage 2 of its coronavirus recovery plan in two weeks, reopening restricted outdoor dining and in-store retail with hair salons and more to open later in June, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.
Outdoor dining, which Connecticut reopened more than a week ago, will be allowed in New Jersey as of June 15, the same day Murphy has said child care centers can reopen. In-person retail sales can also resume at that point, though each store has to maintain a strict 50 percent capacity in order to stay open.
Hair salons and barbershops are slated to reopen the following Monday, on June 22, Murphy said. Gyms and health clubs will likely reopen soon thereafter, though the governor said health officials were continuing to work on safety protocol guidance for those businesses. He had no specific date for fitness centers.
The June 15 move to Stage 2 will come exactly four weeks after Murphy unveiled a three-stage roadmap to reopening and recovery. New Jersey, which until recently led the nation on indicators like new COVID deaths and cases per 100,000 residents, has been in Stage 1, which allows curbside retail pickup and other socially distant activities like the ones permitted by New York's Phase I.
At the same time, New Jersey has made tremendous strides. On Monday, Murphy announced the Garden State was No. 1 in daily testing per capita.
"As we open, we know there is a greater chance for transmission of COVID19," the governor said. "There is no cure. There is no vaccine. There is no proven therapeutic. The only cure is responsibility. Safety will continue to be our number one priority."
Proven mitigation measures like social distancing and facial coverings will be part and parcel of the phased-in restart, Murphy said Monday. Businesses eligible to reopen in Stage 2 must adhere to Department of Health guidance.
"Just because the calendar says June 15 doesn’t mean that everyone should just go back to what they were doing pre-COVID," Murphy said. "Let’s use common sense for the common good. Only a successful Stage 2 can get us to Stage 3."
Stage 3 in New Jersey allows expanded dining, critical in-office work, limited entertainment, bars with limited capacity and expanded personal care services, among other activities, with significant safeguards against viral resurgence.
New Jersey has been America's second most-impacted state in the pandemic next to New York. It has reported more than 11,700 virus deaths to date.
On Tuesday, Murphy revealed the rate of contagion of the virus in the state -- saying that measures, including social distancing norms, taken throughout the past weeks has lowered the rate of contagion.
"When I issued my stay-at-home order on March 21, COVID-19 was at a nearly unstoppable pace of spread. Each infected person, whether they were symptomatic or asymptomatic, by the way, was spreading COVID-19 to an average of five other New Jerseyans," Murphy said.
"Within three weeks of our stay-at-home order being put in place and by the time when our hospitals were at their peak stress, we have cut the rate of spread to a rate to roughly one to one and today, thank God, that rate of spread is less than one to one and we need to keep it that way."
On Wednesday, Murphy announced the state continues to make tremendous progress with New Jersey ranking 16th in the country with the most new cases per day per 100,000 residents. However, it is the first and third state in the country when it comes to hospitalized patients and deaths per day, respectively.
There were 112 additional deaths reported, for a total of more than 11,800, Murphy said Wednesday.
Murphy released information compiled in a report that looked into the series of problems the pandemic has exposed at its nursing homes. These facilities have proven to be a hot spot for the spread of coronavirus and resulted in numerous deaths among its residents. In one instance, police said 17 bodies were found piled inside a small morgue inside a New Jersey nursing home.
Quoting from the review, the governor said that "COVID-19 did not create the problem. It exacerbated the longstanding, underlying systemic issues affecting nursing home care."
The report included recommendations to build high-functioning and safe facilities, including: strengthening emergency response capacity; stabilizing facilities and bolstering workforce; increase transparency and accountability, and; build a more resilient and higher quality system by improving safety and quality infrastructure.
"One of the specific recommendations calls for facilities to maintain infection control preventionists," Murphy said. According to the report, about one-third of nursing homes in the state were cited for an infection prevention and control deficiency in 2017.
Murphy called it a "national" problem, but said the state will confront the issue head-on.
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East Executive Vice President Milly Silva was present at Murphy's coronavirus briefing Wednesday and thanked government officials for compiling the report, which she called a "jumping off point" for changes to come and thanked the state for recognizing the high demand and stress faced by staff, especially during the pandemic.
"We know this effort is about forming an effective response going forward, to look at underlying conditions in a systemic approach and to acknowledge there are short-term issues and this requires communication, coordination and collaboration," she said.
"As we go forward from today, I hope the broad debate moved forward in New Jersey about the future of care is guided, not by politics but by epidemiologists, clinicians and public health experts and with the voices of nursing home residents, their family members and the caregivers being front and center. If we don't include them we will not get New Jersey's long-term care system to the place where we all deserve it to be," Silva went on to say.