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Mid-Hudson Valley now in Phase 3 of COVID reopening

HUDSON VALLEY — The Mid-Hudson Valley Region, which includes Dutchess County, entered Phase 3 under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s strategic reopening plan in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, June 23 — much to the relief of local residents and business owners. The Mid-Hudson Valley Region includes, in addition to Dutchess County, Ulster, Westchester, Sullivan, Orange, Putnam and Rockland Counties. The governor confirmed the region would reopen on Wednesday, June 17, at one of his last daily coronavirus press conferences, which ended their 111-day run last week.

The governor had a team of volunteer experts review virus rates statewide before giving the OK for any region to reopen. It was on March 22 that Cuomo issued his New York State on PAUSE Executive Order,  shutting down all non-essential businesses and schools and banning all public gatherings to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the midst of the current global health crisis. His approach seems to have been effective. 

Cuomo announced on Friday, June 19, that the day before, “the state tested a record number of people. Out of the 79,308 tests conducted in New York state yesterday, only 796, or 1%, were positive for COVID-19.”

In fact, infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths are at their lowest since the pandemic hit the state hard mid-March, when New York became the epicenter of the crisis in the U.S.

The state began its phased reopening on May 15, starting upstate with five regions; New York City was last region in line to reopen. The city entered Phase 2 this Monday, June 21. 

In Phase 3, Mid-Hudson Valley restaurants will be able to offer indoor dining with limited capacity and other safety precautions. State guidelines are requiring that restaurants offering indoor seating limit indoor capacity to no more than 50% of their maximum occupancy (not including employees). Indoor and outdoor capacity must also be limited to the number of tables that can be safely spaced at least 6 feet away from nearby tables. Other precautions must be taken if such distancing isn’t possible, according to the guidelines. 

Also, the state is mandating that employees wear face coverings at all times, regardless of social distancing, and that patrons wear face coverings when not seated. There are exceptions to requiring a mask for those under the age of 2 or those with certain  medical conditions. Groups are limited to a maximum of 10, and those seated at the same table must be from the same party.

Nail salons, tattoo parlors and spas can also open in Phase 3. Hair salons and barber shops were permitted to operate on a limited basis in Phase 2, but now additional personal care businesses are being allowed in this next phase of reopening the economy. Tattoos, piercings, massages, manicures, tanning, waxing and other spa services are being permitted under state guidelines.

The governor is also giving the OK for certain youth sports to resume starting Monday, July 6, along with gatherings of up to 25 people. Pools and playgrounds may also reopen at the discretion of local municipalities.

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