Assembly minority conference outlines regional reopening plan

Photo courtesy of the New York State Assembly

On Monday, Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, R-Pulaski, and other members of the Assembly Minority Conference called for a plan to reopen New York state businesses on a regional basis. At his April 21 press conference, Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged how each county in New York will experience its own timing and curve of the coronavirus.

“Just like some states will reopen before other states because they have a different circumstance when it comes to COVID …  it’s also true across the state,” Cuomo said. “North country has a totally different situation than New York City. Central New York has a different situation. We operate as one state, but we also have to understand variations and you do want to get this economy open as soon as possible. If a situation is radically different than another part of the state, then take that into consideration.”

The Assembly Minority Conference’s New York State Regional Restart Plan consists of recommendations of its own, including a request for a panel of experts in both economic-development and public health that would develop a reopening plan by April 30.

“We have counties with fewer than 10 positive cases of COVID-19 that are under the same restrictions as counties with more than 30,000,” Leader Barclay said.

According to the restart plan, 1.2 million New Yorkers have filed unemployment claims over the past four weeks. Other economic fallout includes a potential $10 billion to $15 billion budget deficit for the state.

Opening parts of the state where there are few COVID-19 cases would allow for the economy to restart in some regions while other more infected regions remain closed.

The plan includes suggestions like the New York State Department of Health working alongside county health departments to choose deciding factors for when non-essential businesses could reopen in regions with a low number of cases.

Another suggestion is that the state should evaluate if a business is able to implement proper social distancing to protect both workers and customers. Safe practices moving forward would include ensuring a business can maintain 6-feet of distance between workers, providing face masks, prioritizing delivery and online payment, and having hand sanitizer or a place to wash hands.

The New York Regional Restart Panel would be tasked with building this phased-in plan for the reopening of businesses in some regions. 

The panel makeup would include the President & CEO of Empire State Development, 10 regional directors from Empire State Development, the director of the division of budget, commissioners of health, labor and agriculture and markets, and one appointee each from the Assembly Speaker, Senate Majority Leader, Minority Leaders of the Assembly and Senate.