Long Island began Phase Four reopening of the economy on July 8, including universities and colleges. There is still no word whether the state’s 700 public school districts could return to in-person classes, however, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that a decision would come in August.
In the meantime Cuomo said all school districts have been directed to develop reopening plans, but he is taking a wait-and-see approach whether students will head back to their school buildings in September.
In addition to higher education, industries that opened on Wednesday include:
Low-risk indoor entertainment includes museums, historical sites and aquariums. Examples of low-risk outdoor entertainment are zoos, botanical gardens and nature parks.
In Valley Stream, residents said they have mixed feelings about the repoenings.
Local artist Mike Stanko said that he and his wife love going to museums on Long Island, and looks forward to doing it once again.
“My wife and I are huge fans and we love going to shows at the Heckscher Museum of Art, the Nassau County Museum of Art and Mills Pond Gallery,” he said. “Phase Four will be different and it’s a step in the right direction. I’m hoping we get a vaccine soon, so we can get closer to the life we are used to.”
Others, however, said they were fearful that the reopenings could lead to increased exposure to the coronvirus.
Valley Stream resident Cristina Arroyo predicts that Phase Four will have the opposite intended effect for her and her family, and noting that two of her family members died of complications from the virus in the same week, it will force them to be even more wary of infection.
“Reopening public venues that hold groups of people in contained areas will help further the spread, and me and my family are going to have to be even more careful than before,” she said. “My family and I will continue to avoid crowded places and wearing masks. Overall, phase four represents more restrictions on my freedom rather than fewer.”
Valley Stream resident Anseer Khan said that because he and his children do not anticipate visiting any of the locations opening in Phase Four he does not believe it will directly affect him. However, Khan said he does worry that reopening will negatively affect his friends and family that work in the healthcare industry, particularly those who have tested negative for covid 19 antibodies.
“Increasing indoor activities I feel is dangerous and I feel skeptical of the cases being down in New York,” he said. “I don’t think we should rush to reopen without a vaccine.”
Cuomo praised New Yorkers for their vigilance and resilience throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. He said, though, that he worried people might become apathetic and arrogant, believing they had beaten the virus.
He noted that the infection rate remains just below 1 percent statewide — down from nearly 17 percent on Long Island and more than 20 percent in New York City at the height of the pandemic in April.
More than 54,000 New Yorkers were tested for the coronavirus on Sunday, and 518 of them were positive for the disease.
“The numbers have actually declined since we started reopening” seven weeks ago, Cuomo said.
He also said there were fewer than 10 deaths statewide overnight from July 5 to 6. But he said, the virus is still out there, so people must continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing in public spaces, according to state law. He implored local police departments to enforce the law.
New York City began Phase Three reopening on Monday, without indoor dining.