The Long Island region is on track to enter phase four of the four phase New York Forward reopening plan on Wednesday, July 8. Seen by some as a final phase, in reality, it’s not. There are still some industries and activities that will remain closed, with no reopening dates released yet.
Gyms, movie theaters, and shopping malls will see delayed openings, and the NY PAUSE regulations related to mandated masks and social distancing in public places remain in effect.
Industries and locations — like beaches and restaurant dining rooms — where capacity is limited to 50 percent, must continue to adhere to those regulations. Banned personal services, like facials, that call for mask removal, continue to be prohibited.
Social gatherings may increase to allow 50 people; the current limit is 25. As in the first three phases, businesses must develop and submit safety plans to the state, comply with social distancing, sanitizing, and disinfecting standards, such as implementing hand sanitizing stations, as required for businesses that opened during earlier phases. Mandatory health screening practices and tracing systems must be detailed in a safety plan.
Phase four reopens low-risk indoor and outdoor arts and entertainment venues, including museums, historical sites, aquariums, zoos and botanical gardens. Social distancing and facial coverings are mandatory. Capacity is restricted to 25 percent for indoor venues and to 33 percent for outdoor ones. Higher education and media production activities can also resume with limitations.
Higher Education guidelines pertain to all types of in-person higher education institutions — community and junior colleges, universities, medical schools, professional schools, technical schools and the like. While mask and social distance regulations apply throughout a campus, roommates need not use face coverings within their own dorm rooms. Employees must be screened daily, and students must be screened periodically.
Low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment activities include outdoor zoos, botanical gardens, nature parks, grounds of historic sites and cultural institutions, outdoor museums, and agritourism.
High-risk interactive exhibits that may call for visitors touching objects must be closed and group tours limited to members of the same household or party. The guidelines suggest reducing bi-directional traffic through a venue.
Children’s play areas must be closed unless they can be sanitized between each child not in the same family or party. Picnic tables and benches must be moved 6 feet apart or closed. Unless they can be disinfected using Department of Health guidelines, headsets or any equipment rented to patrons are prohibited, as are shared maps.
Low-risk indoor venues include museums, historical sites, and aquariums. They’re limited to 25 percent maximum occupancy, including both visitors and workforce.
Media production businesses and activities opening during phase four encompass all activities related to motion picture, music, television, and streaming productions on set, on location, or at a recording site. Regulations allow for employees, cast, and crew be restricted to 50 percent of maximum occupancy for any area.
While 6 feet social distancing is required, the guidelines acknowledge certain functions — hair, makeup, sound, filming, performing — could require closer interactions. Protocols for mitigating risk must be outlined in the company’s safety plan.
Social distancing requirements must be taken into account when scouting locations. Live audiences are prohibited, unless they’re paid employees, cast and crew, and then no more than 100 individuals or 25 percent of the audience capacity, whichever is lower, are allowed. All production equipment and tools must be disinfected, as must props, costumes and set materials, which then must be stored in sealed containers. Shared food and beverages are banned.
Each business must post regulations applicable to its enterprise, affirm they’ve been read and submit a safety plan to the state. The guidance, affirmation, and safety plan template may be found online at forward.ny.gov.
According to the NY Forward Reopening Guide, three priorities must be considered when a business reopens. Ensuring the protection of workers and customers is the first priority.
Next, business owners must make changes to their physical workplace — require masks and strict sanitizing protocols.
Finally, businesses have to consider instituting such health monitoring measures as taking employees’ temperatures, and alerting customers to confirmed positive cases among staff members.
An additional reopening resource located on the forward.ny.gov website offers detailed guidance regarding how particular industries and businesses may move ahead, listing both mandates and recommended best practices.
Mandatory measures listed in the guidance pertain to physical distancing, protective equipment, cleaning, communication, and screening.