Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced a list of guidelines that New York State regions need to meet in order to reopen on May 15.
That is the expiration date for the state's "NY pause" order due to the coronavirus pandemic, which limits nonessential businesses from opening, directs nonessential employees to work from home and advises social distancing measures.
The Western New York region is defined by the state as five counties: Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany.
Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming counties are considered part of the Finger Lakes region, which also includes Rochester’s Monroe County.
"This state has different regions, which are in much different situations than other regions," Cuomo said. "Rather than wait for the whole state to be ready, reopen on a regional basis. If upstate is waiting for downstate to be ready, they’re going to be waiting a long time."
Cuomo's list of 10 guidelines:
1. A region must have at least 14 days of decline in total hospitalizations and deaths (on a three-day rolling average).
2. In regions with few Covid-19 cases, they cannot exceed 15 new total cases or five new deaths (on a three-day rolling average).
3. A region must have fewer than two new Covid-19 patients admitted per 100,000 residents per day.
4. A region must have at least 30 percent of its total hospital beds and at least 30 percent of its intensive care beds available.
5. Every hospital in a region must have at least 90 days of personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpiled.
6. A region must be able to administer 30 tests for every 1,000 residents per month.
7. A region must have a baseline of 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents, plus additional tracers based on the projected number of cases in the region.
"Once that is all done," Cuomo said, "then you can talk about opening businesses."
8. Regions must be reopened in four phases, based on certain categories.
Phase One: Construction; manufacturing and wholesale supply chain; select retail with curbside pickup.
Phase Two: Professional services; finance and insurance; retail; administrative support; real estate/rental leasing.
Phase Three: Restaurant/food services; hotels/accommodations.
Phase Four: Arts/entertainment/recreation; education
9. Businesses must enact certain safety precautions to be in compliance with new standards, Cuomo said.
"We need businesses to reimagine how they are going to do business," he said, "and get ready to protect their workforce, to change their physical environment to the extent they need to, and to change their processes to make sure people can socially distance, so people remain in a safe environment.
"And that's business by business. Government can say these are the standards, but a business is going to have to figure out how to do that."
10. A regional "control room" must be established.
"Each region has to ... monitor this system literally on a daily basis," Cuomo said. "They’re getting all that data, and then day by day they are making a decision on how to proceed with reopening, based on the data, based on the facts. That will be a little different for every region in the state."