Calling it “a big milestone for us,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone reported last week that phase three of the NY Forward four-phase reopening plan would begin on Wednesday, June 24. Phase three includes indoor seating at restaurants — at 50 percent capacity — and the reopening of personal service shops, like spas, nail salons and tattoo facilities.
When phase two launched on June 10, opening outdoor dining, Mr. Bellone traveled the county to visit varied eateries. On Tuesday, he said he doesn’t have any specific plans to tour restaurants that can open indoors as phase three begins.
The county executive noted that some regions upstate are poised to enter phase four, which allows for the opening of arts, entertainment, recreation, and education. Guidelines from the state are “not entirely clear now,” he said, offering that he was looking forward to seeing what they may be. If the reopening track continues as it has, phase four could commence on Long Island on July 8.
As of Wednesday morning, the NY Forward website, which provides guidance for state mandates and recommendations for each phase, listed phase four guidelines for industries labeled higher education, low-risk outdoor and indoor arts and entertainment, and media production. The reopening of shopping malls, gyms, and movie theaters may be delayed, as officials monitor coronavirus infection rates.
The state guidance for phase three has been out for two weeks now, with links on the town website, East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc pointed out.
“The indoor dining component is significant,” he said, noting that as the town continues to allow temporary permits for expanded outdoor seating, businesses may get closer to, if not totally reaching, their pre-COVID-19 occupancy levels. Like most East End municipalities, East Hampton temporarily relaxed rules to allow dining establishments to expand their outdoor seating.
The town’s Business Recovery Committee, convened at the beginning of the crisis, was slated to meet Wednesday.
“We’ll go over what we’ve been seeing, any potential problem and things that can be addressed,” the supervisor said. When it comes to phase four, Mr. Van Scoyoc is interested in seeing when the state might relax capacity limits at beaches, which are currently mandated at 50 percent.
“It’s a big deal, phase three,” Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said. “Indoor dining, all the beauty treatments return. You can get that tattoo you’ve been waiting for.”
The supervisor reminded that the governor has also allowed gatherings — both indoors and outdoors — of up to 25 people during phase three.
“We really needed that,” he observed.
Indoor meetings, like AA, and indoor classes, like yoga, can take place.
The Southampton Town Board hosted its first in-person meeting in months on Tuesday night. “It was a hybrid meeting,” Mr. Schneiderman reported. Some people still attended via Zoom teleconference, while others came to Town Hall. “It was really nice to see everyone in person, to say the Pledge of Allegiance to a real flag,” the lawmaker added.
“I went into this to serve the public,” he continued. “That’s very hard to do on a computer.”
Describing the gathering, which included a handful of members of the public, as “uplifting,” Mr. Schneiderman said, “It felt like being able to take a step toward normal.”
This week, Southampton Town will host pop-up antibody testing sites on the Baseline Bus, a medical mobile unit — first parked on Thursday, June 25, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Southampton Elementary School, followed by another session on Friday, June 26, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Red Creek Park in Hampton Bays.
Drive-up testing is by appointment only, while walk-up testing at the Baseline Bus is available without one. For more information, call 516-778-5488. To schedule an appointment, visit baselineappointment.as.me/townhall or baselineappointment.as.me/redcreek.
On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced, “New York State is one of only three states that are on track to contain the COVID-19 according to a study by COVID Act Now.”
COVID Act Now is a multidisciplinary team of technologists, epidemiologists, health experts, and public policy leaders working to provide disease intelligence and data analysis on COVID in the U.S., according to its website. It works in partnership with Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security and Stanford University Clinical Excellence Research Center.
“We went from one of the highest infection rates to one of the lowest, and we did it by making decisions based on the science, the data and the facts — not on politics,” the governor said in a statement. “New York is finally coming back, and I can’t stress enough how important it is that we don’t blow this incredible progress now. To all New Yorkers: wear a mask, get tested, socially distance, wash your hands and be smart.”
“We still have much more to do,” the governor said, as he offered his last daily COVID-19 response update on Friday. “We have to monitor the local infection rate. Local governments must ensure compliance and do tracing. We have to watch out for a second wave. We have to watch out for possible infections coming now from other states, and many people need help to get their lives back to normal.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said he will continue daily updates, observing that while the public health crisis may be allayed, the economic crisis persists.
Seeking the data to support Governor Andrew Cuomo’s June 14 statement that the Hamptons, along with New York City, were “the worst” offenders of reopening regulations, area officials learned last Thursday, according to Sag Harbor Police Chief Austin McGuire,
“There have been three complaints on the East End since June 8. The governor was wrong.” In his jurisdiction, Sag Harbor Village, the chief reported, there were none.
Southampton Town Public Safety Director Ryan Murphy told the Town Board during its Thursday work session that data received from the state revealed 25 complaints in all of Suffolk sent to Albany. In Southampton Town, there was one, in a village.
East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo said his department fielded two complaints, just one about a noncompliant business. Officers visited the establishment and gained compliance.
On Thursday, the governor announced he would sign an executive order to allow the State Liquor Authority to suspend liquor licenses immediately for bars and restaurants that break social distancing requirements. In a second executive order, he made bars responsible for the sidewalk area immediately in front of their premises. In all areas where outdoor dining extends to sidewalks and streets, open container laws continue to be in effect.