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Cuomo: North Country among 5 regions to enter Phase 3 Friday

Public pools and playgrounds can open today

An outdoor dining area at Great Adirondack Brewing Company in Lake Placid is seen in May 2016. (Enterprise photo — Antonio Olivero)

SARANAC LAKE — During his daily COVID-19 briefing Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that five economic regions in the state, including the North Country, will enter Phase 3 of reopening on Friday.

The other regions are Finger Lakes, Central New York, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley. All five regions were the first to begin reopening their economies for non-essential businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 15 and entered Phase 2 on May 29.

In a slide showing a map of the five regions, it stated “Global experts have reviewed the data.”

“We have global experts that look at the data because sometimes if you look at the data, you look at the underlying numbers, you look at the underlying tests, you can see something, but we have the best experts that you can possibly have reviewing this,” Cuomo said.

Earlier this week, the New York Forward website announced detailed guidelines for Phase 3 industries: food services and personal care services.

For restaurants, this means they will be able to serve patrons inside for the first time since the evening of March 16. The governor allowed outdoor dining as of June 4 as part of Phase 2.

“Also, a point of caution,” Cuomo said. “I know businesses are anxious to open. Everybody is anxious to get the economy going. Please follow the guidelines and do what is permissible.”

If restaurants do not follow the guidelines, for example, the governor said they could lose their liquor license.

“Short-term gain is not worth long-term pain,” he said.

Restaurants must limit indoor capacity to no more than 50% of maximum occupancy, exclusive of employees. Outdoor capacity must be limited to the number of tables that can be safely and appropriately arranged, such that each table is a minimum of 6 feet away from another. All indoor and outdoor tables with seating for customers must be separated by a minimum of 6 feet in all directions. Wherever distancing is not feasible between tables, physical barriers must be enacted between such tables. Barriers must be at least 5 feet in height and not block emergency and/or fire exits.

Restaurant employees must wear face coverings at all times, and patrons must wear face coverings all all times, except while seated, provided the patron is over the age of 2 and able to medically tolerate such covering.

Personal care services applies to non-hair-related businesses including tattoo and piercing facilities, appearance enhancement practitioners, massage therapy, spas, cosmetology, nail specialty, UV and non-UV tanning, or waxing. They need to limit the workforce and customer presence to no more than 50% of the maximum occupancy, inclusive of customers. They must maintain 6 feet of separation from others, except during the service. Face coverings are required for employees and customers.

For a full list of the mandatory and best recommended practices, visit the New York Forward website at https://forward.ny.gov/phase-three-industries.

Additionally, the governor announced that the state will allow localities to open public pools and playgrounds today. The decision to open those facilities will be at the discretion of the local governments that operate them.

“They have to use their judgement here,” Cuomo said. “They have the test data. They should be studying the test data.”

Phase 4, the final phase, will include arts, entertainment, recreation and education.

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