by Dave Warner
Businesses across the state are undecided this morning as to whether or not they have the green light to open, based on guidelines put out by the Governor’s office earlier in the month.
The confusion started on Wednesday, when Governor Cuomo said the following, “We’re watching the numbers, we’re watching the numbers. We said two weeks between phases, that’s a rule of thumb, there is no magic or science to that, that isn’t a hard-and-fast number … but if you see no increase in any of the numbers could you accelerate that, yes. Phase Two is different than Phase One because Phase One is a hard start or stop, right? Either you hit this number or you don’t hit this number…Phase Two is more a judgment call of when have the numbers stabilized, to the extent there is an increase can you explain the increase, or is the increase problematic. I don’t know there are a hard set of numbers for Phase Two.”
On Wednesday, when asked about the Governor’s statement, Herkimer County Legislative Chairman Vincent J. Bono said, “There is no set date. However, the assumed date by the governor’s office is 29 May. We have been promised guidance for businesses to reopen and phase 2 by today or tomorrow. My guess is we will meet that deadline.”
Phase Two was supposed to allow a wider range of businesses to reopen, including storefront retailers and businesses in the professional services, finance and insurance, administrative support, and real-estate and rental-leasing industries. Under the guidelines, no region was eligible to begin Phase Two until at least May 30.
On Thursday night, the Governor was on WAMC Northeast Public Radio and when asked about the reopening phases stated, “I’m not between a rock and a hard place, I’m between a rock and right place, and I chose the right place. We have metrics. We have numbers. They’re are the smartest data-based reopening plan in the country, I believe. We have international experts who go through it and we’ll follow the data. The reopening in the first five regions ends tomorrow. When the reopening of phase one ends, we’ll give the experts all the data. It is posted on the web but let them analyze it. And if they say we should move forward, we’ll move forward.”
When asked what he was looking at, he continued, “How many people are getting sick, what the infection rate, what is the transmission rate, what is the hospitalization rate, what is the contact tracing rate, what is the testing rate, all the data points. And we analyze it and then we give it to the international experts. And we are going to ask them to analyze it and if they sign off and say go to Phase 2, Andiamo.”
It is unclear as to how long this expert review will take.
Bono expressed his outrage with the news saying, “This is just absurd. They keep pulling the rug out from under us. We have had no direct communication from the governor. It’s disheartening. We were told there were guidelines and we met them.”
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said, “At 7 o’clock the night before, the bomb is dropped that says, they can’t open because we’ve got to have other experts look at this data. It’s outrageous. It’s an insult,” said Picente. “It’s an insult to every business in this community that has been struggling.”
Picente says he will not stop businesses from reopening Friday, as planned.
Bono, stated “we can’t promise that we would be able to enforce the order if businesses become defiant. We are giving the Governor the benefit of the doubt that the earliest we can open would be Saturday. If it becomes next Saturday all bets are off.”
One local Little Falls business owner stated, “I want to get a couple of hundred business owners that can’t be open and all go to Walmart in white hazmat suits or body shop coveralls, take up all the shopping carts and just walk around for hours and not buy anything. All legal.”
Businesses and officials across the state are now talking about ignoring the governor, setting up the possibility of widespread civil disobedience today and beyond.
State Senator Fred Ashkar from the Southern Tier tweeted, “I fully support our local leaders’ decision to move forward with the planned Phase 2 tomorrow since the Governor seems unable or unwilling to keep his word on providing any direction or even simple communication with our Upstate communities.”
At this point, there are no Central New York leaders that have told businesses not to open.