Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in New York State, US, to lift business restrictions in certain regions starting May 15.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • New York City, New York
  • Albany, New York
  • Buffalo, New York
  • Syracuse, New York
  • Rochester, New York
  • Binghamton, New York
  • Elmira, New York
  • Islip, New York
  • The Hamptons-Montauk, New York
  • Watertown, New York
  • Plattsburgh, New York
  • Ithaca, New York
  • Newburgh, New York
  • Glens Falls, New York
  • White Plains, New York
  • Fishkill, New York
  • Hauppauge, New York
  • Melville, New York
  • Riverside, New York
  • Saratoga Springs, New York

This alert began 12 May 2020 19:47 GMT and is scheduled to expire 22 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): New York State (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions

Authorities in New York plan to lift certain business restrictions in the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, and Mohawk Valley regions starting May 15 as part of the state's four-phase coronavirus disease (COVID-19) recovery plan. The move will allow businesses in the construction, manufacturing, wholesale supply chain, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industries to resume operations. Retail shops will also be allowed to reopen, albeit for curbside pickup and drop-off services. The affected regions encompass the following counties:

  • Finger Lakes: Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates counties
  • Southern Tier: Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, and Tompkins counties
  • Mohawk Valley: Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, and Schoharie counties

Under New York State's recovery plan, as a prerequisite to reopening, individual regions must meet seven specific criteria established as indicators of local capacity to minimize the spread of COVID-19. North Country (Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties) and Central New York (Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, and Oswego counties) have met six of the criteria and could be the next regions in the state to see restrictions lifted.

Also starting May 15, authorities will lift restrictions on some low-risk businesses and outdoor recreational activities statewide, including landscaping, gardening, drive-in movie theaters, and tennis. Nevertheless, except where specified otherwise, orders requiring nonessential businesses to remain closed and residents to stay at home unless performing essential tasks will remain in place until further notice. Under New York's current stay-at-home order, residents may only leave their homes to obtain basic goods, attend to a medical issue, care for a person in need, or travel to work at an essential business or service. Residents may also engage in recreational activities, provided they comply with social distancing guidelines. Essential businesses that may remain open include grocery stores, pharmacies, health care providers, banks, fuel stations, transportation providers, construction companies, and manufacturers. Restaurants may only provide delivery and carry-out services. Authorities require all persons, including essential workers, to wear protective masks when in public and whenever they cannot adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly keep additional security personnel deployed to assist in enforcing the state's measures. Officials could amend the order on short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures will likely accelerate in the coming weeks; however, officials may reimpose or further extend restrictions should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all non-essential travel in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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