On to Phase 4 of reopening the economy: Mid-Hudson Valley COVID-19 recovery
HUDSON VALLEY — Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week that he believes the Mid-Hudson Valley Region of New York would be able to reopen its economy for Phase 4 on Tuesday, July 7. It did just that this week, much to the relief of residents living and working throughout the region, meaning it can now allow higher education, low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment, low-risk indoor arts and entertainment, media production and professional sports competitions with no fans to operate.
The region entered its first phase of reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic on May 26. But not all businesses fall under the auspices of those allowed to reopen. According to an email from Millerton Moviehouse Co-Founder and Owner Carol Sadlon sent to her patrons on Friday, July 3, the indoor theater is not included in the governor’s Phase 4 reopening plan.
“We received the disappointing news that we will not be opening The Moviehouse this month,” Sadlon wrote, “but our theater and staff are ready and looking forward to welcoming you all back when the time is right.”
Cuomo’s Phase 4 Guidance is listed online at www.forward.ny.gov, including activities that can reopen this week, like higher education, which “must develop and submit a plan for reopening and operating for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.”
Low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment, meanwhile, refers to “outdoor zoos, botanical gardens, nature parks, grounds of historic sites and cultural institutions, outdoor museums, outdoor agritourism, local agricultural demonstrations and exhibitions; and other similar institutions/activities.”
Low-risk indoor arts and entertainment, meanwhile, “apply to all indoor museums, historical sites, aquariums and other related institutions or activities,” according to the governor’s website.
The website also defines “media production businesses/activities in regions of New York that have been permitted to reopen” as those that “encompass all activities undertaken in motion picture, music, television and streaming productions on set, on location or at any production or recording site.”
The state regulations for professional sports competitions is a little more detailed. It specifies that the guidelines “apply to all activities undertaken in preparation for professional sports competitions, as well as the conduct of such competitions, at an appropriate venue for professional sports competitions, such as a stadium or arena… professional sports are defined as any sporting event at which participants are paid by a league or team. This guidance does not apply to collegiate sports; it also does not apply to horse racing or auto racing, which are addressed in separate guidance documents.”
The governor’s office made special mention that “no live audience, fans or spectators” are allowed at said sporting events.
According to the Dutchess Business Notification Network, “Regions in Phase 4 are also permitted to hold social gatherings of up to 50 people; and indoor religious gatherings will be allowed at up to 33% of the indoor site’s capacity.”
But even though restrictions are lifting, that doesn’t mean New Yorkers are out of the woods yet, according to North East town Supervisor Chris Kennan, who addressed the Phase 4 reopening in his latest email sent to community members on Thursday, July 2.
“The town has consistently had the lowest rates of recorded infections in Dutchess County,” wrote Kennan. “But all one has to do is look around the country to see that this pandemic is very much around and not in control. It could easily re-emerge in the county and in our own community, especially as some restrictions on gatherings, including indoor restaurant dining, have been lifted. Dutchess County will enter Phase 4 of re-opening on Tuesday of next week, and the more that we can exercise personal responsibility, practice social distancing, wash our hands, wear a face covering when in public and avoid crowded places, the better we will all be. This is especially true for people who are more vulnerable, our seniors and those with underlying medical issues. Let’s all work at keeping each other safe.”
Kennan added that the months’ long shut down has been tough on local businesses — many just starting to open after Cuomo issued the New York State on PAUSE Executive Order in mid-March.
“The economy of our community has been battered by the pandemic,” stated Kennan. “People have lost jobs and income, and some of our stores and restaurants may never re-open. In a small and fragile local economy like ours, this is a really serious concern.”
The town supervisor said pragmatically that COVID-19 “will have a large adverse impact on state, county and municipal budgets.” He noted “the federal government has pumped in some short-term relief, and has just extended the Paycheck Protection Program program,” noting he doesn’t know how much longer it will continue to do so, but adding he’s hopeful it will.
That’s why he joined County Executive Marc Molinaro and the majority of other town supervisors throughout the county in penning a letter to Congressional leaders requesting more federal funds.
On Saturday, July 4, the president signed legsislation approved by both houses of Congress extending the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) deadline for small businesses; it was due to expire Tuesday, June 30. There was $130 billion left of the $660 billion that had been allocated. Businesses now have until Aug. 8 to apply for assistance.
Molinaro, for his part, spoke highly of how well Dutchess County has responded to the health crisis in a prepared statement issued on Thursday, July 2.
“I am exceptionally proud of the things we’ve accomplished over the past four months,” he stated. “Our community was thrown headfirst into a public health crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen in generations, and we responded with professionalism, love and strength.”
As of July 2, Dutchess County reported 4,213 total confirmed COVID-19 cases; 60,652 tests completed; 179 current active cases; seven current hospitalizations; 151 deaths; and 3,883 recoveries.