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Five Towns non-essential businesses to remain closed through end of May

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A couple of Five Towns business owners had mixed reactions that Long Island's economy will remain on hold at least until the end of the month.  

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on May 15 extended the New York Pause stay-at-home order for the region and New York City through May 28.

The order further states that all "enforcement mechanisms" of the NY Pause order will remain in effect through June 13, "unless later extended.”

The governor tweeted that five of New York's 10 regions had met the state's seven criteria for reopening as of May 15, but Long Island, had not. 

Alan Bernstein owns Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa at 1300 Broadway in Hewlett. He noted that despite not being able to open until at least June, he feels optimistic for what lies ahead in terms of business. 

“Our expectations from colleagues of mine that have opened around the country is that people are eager to come in,” Bernstein said. “For that reason, I’m optimistic that there's pent up demand and we're gonna do real well business-wise when it’s safe to open.”

Ali Artz, owner of the Ambiance Salon also in Hewlett, said that she is frustrated by the directive. "I find it frustrating because I want to open and you want my normal to come back, but I also want everyone to be safe,” Artz said. “My biggest frustration is the discrepancies for what is considered an essential business.

Despite frustrations, Artz remains optimistic about business whenever she’s able to reopen. “Most of my clients who don’t have any underlying health issues are looking forward to coming back to the salon,” she said. “I’m just hoping that this comes to an end and we can safely resume business.”

Among the regions that will begin the reopening process on Friday are the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Central New York.

"The others," Cuomo wrote, "can be UN-PAUSED the moment they hit their benchmarks."

"New Yorkers," he added, "be proud. Your actions bent the curve," meaning staying at home led to the current downward trend in new infections and hospitalizations after spiking in early April.

Certain "low-risk" business activities such as landscaping and gardening, as well as drive-in movie theaters, were allowed to resume statewide on Friday. Certain outdoor recreation activities like tennis were permitted also.

How reopening will play out will depend on local conditions on the ground, according to the governor. To reopen, a region must meet a set of stringent guidelines, which include:

A 14-day decline in hospitalizations.

A 14-day decline in hospital deaths.

New hospitalizations kept to under 2 per 100,000 people.

Thirty percent of hospital beds available.

Thirty percent of intensive care unit beds are available.

Thirty per 1,000 residents tested for the virus.

Thirty contact tracers in place for every 100,000 residents.

Long Island currently meets five of the seven criteria. It falls short on two — 14-day decline in hospital deaths and new hospitalizations under 2 per 100,000 — and like all other regions in the state, it is expected to have a sufficient number of contact tracers in place by the time it opens. 

For regions that meet the state's criteria, reopening is to begin cautiously, the governor said, and will play out over the coming weeks in four stages:

Phase One: Construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, select retail for curbside pickup only, and agriculture, forestry and fishing.

Phase Two: Professional services, finance and insurance, retail, administrative support, and real estate, rental and leasing. 

Phase Three: Restaurants and food services, beyond takeout and delivery.

Phase Four: Arts, entertainment and recreation, and education.

The state, Cuomo said, has created a New York Forward Reopening Advisory Board to help guide the reopening process.