Well into Stage 4, what’s open now?
LAKE PLACID — The North Country region entered Phase 4 of reopening 19 days ago. Since then, New York state has issued new guidance and different industries have gradually been given the go-ahead to reopen. So what’s open now?
The short answer: Everything is allowed to be open except indoor shopping malls, bowling alleys, movie theaters, indoor exercise classes and gym operations. For shopping malls, reopening can come as soon as this Friday — as long as they follow a recommended ventilation protocol and have an air filtration system with at least a MERV-11 rating, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.
Places choosing to remain closed to the public for the time being include Essex County public transportation, the Lake Placid Olympic Center and some libraries, such as those in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.
Places of worship also have varying degrees of openness: The synagogues in Lake Placid and Tupper Lake remain closed for in-person services at this time, and the Whiteface Community United Methodist Church is having outdoor services on its lawn, but many churches have resumed indoor services, with restrictions.
Mini-golf courses, including Boots and Birdies in Lake Placid, were initially left out of Phase 4 reopening but were given the go-ahead to reopen on Monday. County departments of motor vehicles were also allowed to reopen recently, though Essex and Franklin County’s DMVs are still open by appointment only, and only in the county seats of Elizabethtown and Malone. Franklin County’s buses reopened for essential trips on June 29 in Malone, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, and the county also offers commuter bus service between Malone and Plattsburgh.
The Wild Center nature museum in Tupper Lake is limiting capacity and requiring reservations ahead of time for outdoor amenities, with plans to start to reopen in phases beginning on July 15. High Falls Gorge in Wilmington is open, with masks required. The state Olympic Regional Development Authority on Friday reopened the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg to mountain biking and hiking. The Whiteface Veterans’ Memorial Highway is also now open daily.
Some industries have remained open throughout the pandemic after being deemed “essential” in March, such as health care operations, hotels and other accommodations, infrastructure and utilities, grocery stores, laundromats, funeral homes and news media. Phase 1 reopened construction; agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; manufacturing, wholesale trade and limited retail. Phase 2 reopened professional services, in-person property showings for real estate agents, cleaning services, commercial building management, in-store retail, vehicle sales, hair salons and barbershops, and allowed restaurants to offer outdoor dining. Phase 3 reopened food services and personal care services, such as tattoo parlors and spas. Phase 4 reopened colleges, low-risk outdoor and indoor arts and entertainment, media production and professional sports competitions with no fans. Churches and synagogues are allowed to have in-person services as long as they keep the capacity at 33%, although a judge recently ruled that the state cannot limit religious houses to 33% while allowing restaurants 50% capacity.
All businesses that are reopening are doing so with specific restrictions and guidance from the state — such as capacity limitations and sanitization recommendations — designed to curb the spread of the virus.
The state plans to release reopening guidance for school districts on July 13, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday. Schools will then be required to submit their individual reopening plans by July 31, and the state will announce whether or not districts will be allowed to reopen in the fall in the first week of August.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise Managing Editor Peter Crowley contributed to this report.