The Mid-Hudson Region – that is, the counties of Dutchess, Ulster, Putnam, Orange, Westchester and Rockland – officially entered phase one of re-opening today. Phase one (of four) includes the following businesses:
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
· Retail – (limited to curbside or in-store pickup or drop off)
· Wholesale Trade
The immediate effects were not necessarily apparent. After all, some of the largest businesses, like Target, Walmart and local grocery stores, as well as those that are patronized the most often, like corner delis and gas stations, have been open the entire time. Some construction and manufacturing continued as essential work as well, and it’s not exactly a hot market for either.
Oblong Books & Music, an independent bookstore with locations in Rhinebeck and Millerton, provides some insight into what phase one means for a small retail business.
“For the last two months, we have only been permitted to have one bookseller working in the store at a time,” writes Suzanna & the Oblong Team. “As you can imagine, this has been extremely difficult and exhausting for our booksellers. We are so pleased to be in Phase One, which means that we will now be permitted to have one additional staff member working at a time, though still without customers in the store.”
You can track the region’s progress here. If key indicators increase, such as hospitalizations and deaths, the region will remain in phase one for a longer period of time or re-opened businesses will be closed. While the state has said the phases will last 14 days apiece, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said in a radio interview today that that would be a worst-case scenario and it’s possible the region could progress through the phases “rapidly,” with each phasing lasting more like 7-10 days.
Today in his biweekly Covid-19 update, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan urged business owners to visit the county website to fill out several forms related to re-opening, which he said are required. One from the state provides a template for a safety plan, which must be posted publicly at any place of business. Requirements include plans to maintain a six-foot distance between employees (and anyone else), provide face-coverings, ensure proper hygiene and disinfection of common surfaces, among others.
Phase two includes a broad range of businesses under the banner of “professional services”- essentially, anything that’s not entertainment or a dine-in bar or restaurant. (Yes, it does include salons and barbers.)
Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan today credited residents with helping the county to flatten the curve and reach what were the “best-case” projections. He urged residents to remain vigilant by continuing to wear masks and adhering to social-distancing guidelines so the region could continue to make progress.
Currently 10 residents are hospitalized with 2 in ICU care, and 73 have died, but the trends remain positive, with nearly twice as many recovered as active cases, and a continued decline in daily new positive diagnoses despite increased testing.
In fact, testing capacity currently is well in excess of demand. Ryan urged more residents to get tested at the county’s four locations. Info here on three of those sites, and a fourth here. Ryan said the criteria has been relaxed so that anyone whose workplace is affected by the phase-in can be tested now. RiteAid, with locations in Kingston and Poughkeepsie, previously announced anyone over 18 could be tested, symptomatic or not.