BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Western New York region could be ready to begin Phase Two of reopening by next Tuesday. 2 On Your Side's Steve Brown was first to report the news from Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul on Twitter.
“I’m following the metrics closely, morning, noon and night," Hochul said. "And they seem to be holding in a positive direction. So, all signs point to a Phase Two opening one week from today.”
That would be June 2, exactly two weeks after the region entered Phase One.
The reason for Hochul’s optimism is the continued decline in important markers Governor Andrew Cuomo has set out for the progressing through the phases. Hospitalization in Western New York are down. Positive COVID tests as a percentage of all test performed has fallen below 5 percent.
Phase Two would bring back professional services like law offices along with accounting and consulting firms. Also, returning salons and barbershops. Every business wishing to re-open must submit a safety plan to state government
Dottie Gallagher, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership says business owners need to carefully consider that reopening plan, “Because even if you think you’ve done it, if you haven’t audited it against what the state is requiring and you haven’t complete that certification, you’re not ready to open from the state’s perspective.”
When asked Tuesday evening, Hochul said the state is still working on new safety regulations for Phase Two businesses. She said they will be similar to current Phase One protocols and she expects them to be complete within 48 hours.
"That information will be very specifically detailed based on the type of business" said Hochul. "If you look at what we did for Phase One there is a category under construction, manufacturing, retail that clearly tells us what you have to do to make your workplace safe."
If Hochul worries about anything as the region is apparently closing in on Phase Two, it’s people getting complacent.
“If you are a proponent of getting back to normal or even better normal and helping our small businesses get back on their feet, live that message by wearing a mask. Show you care enough about your community that you’re going to play your part,” said Hochul.
Right now, the Western New York region is in Phase One, which allows construction, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, curbside/drop off retail, manufacturing and wholesale trade to begin.
Continuing onto the next phase of reopening depends on whether our region can maintain the seven metrics health officials recommend to ensure COVID-19 cases do not spike.
The Western New York region includes Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.