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Phase One of reopening set for Friday; Gsell talks of 'controlled' approach

By Mike Pettinella

The Finger Lakes Region, which includes Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, is a day away from Phase One of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s four-phase strategy to reopen the economy, but it has to continue to fulfill all seven health-related components to keep moving in the right direction.

“Right now, we’ve met all seven of the metrics, hospitalization rates, bed capacity, testing, and so on, and they all have to stay in the green or we go back to a ‘pause’ on Phase One again,” advised Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell this morning.

Gsell said the entire nine-county Finger Lakes Region will be monitored by the state on a daily to make sure it is within the parameters of the metrics:

-- Decline in Total Hospitalizations;
-- Decline in Deaths;
-- New Hospitalizations;
-- Hospital Bed Capacity;
-- ICU Bed Capacity;
-- Diagnostic Testing Capacity;
-- Contact Tracing Capacity.

“That’s what we’re following and we can’t get ahead of the governor,” Gsell said. “This is how controlled this is going to be.”

The state has a website, New York Forward, that includes a detailed list of the businesses that are eligible to return in six categories assigned to Phase One:

-- Construction;
-- Agriculture;
-- Forestry, fishing and hunting;
-- Retail (limited to curbside or in-store pick up or drop off);
-- Manufacturing;
-- Wholesale trade.

Additional documents on the website include summary and guidelines, along with a safety plan template for reopening, for each business category.

According to the website:

“Businesses in each region will reopen in phases. Reopening refers to nonessential businesses and business activities. Essential businesses and business activities that are open will remain open. The guidelines below apply to both nonessential businesses in regions that are permitted to reopen and essential businesses throughout the state that were previously permitted to remain open.”

Phase Two includes professional services, retail, administrative support, real estate/rental & leasing; Phase Three expands to restaurants and food services; and Phase Four lists arts, entertainment, recreation and education.

Incidentally, playing tennis is being allowed under Phase One, Gsell noted.

Each area of the state is guided by a Regional Control Room that is responsible for keeping tabs on metrics and providing regular updates to communities. Members of the Finger Lakes Control Room include county legislature chairs Rochelle Stein (Genesee), Lynne Johnson (Orleans) and Jerry Davis (Wyoming).

Gsell issued a warning to citizens to continue to practice social distancing measures and wear masks as necessary during the reopening.

“I understand that people are restless and anxious but if we proceed too fast, in a confused and chaotic manner, the (COVID-19) virus will come back in a real negative way,” Gsell said. “We won’t just be behind the 8-ball, the 8-ball will take us down like the Rock of Gibraltar – and we don’t want to go there.”

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