As five regions in New York state begin their phased re-opening on Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has extended the state's shutdown orders for the remaining regions, including New York City, till May 28.
The five regions - Central New York, the North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions - have met all seven metrics required to begin phase one of the state's regional phased reopening plan.
These regions can begin opening businesses over the weekend for phase one, which includes construction; manufacturing and wholesale supply chain; retail for curbside pickup and drop-off or in-store pickup; and agriculture, forestry, and fishing.
However, for the rest of the state, the stay-at-home order has been extended till May 28.
For those regions that don't qualify to open on Friday, we're extending what's called the New York Pause order under which businesses, services and institutions will remain closed down. Cuomo said that if at any time, any of the remaining regions meets the seven criteria necessary to qualify for re-opening, it can re-open.
If a region hits its benchmark at any time, regardless of the Pause order, then that region can open.
The seven metrics that will define whether a region can re-open businesses are a decline in total hospitalizations, the decline in deaths measured by the three-day rolling average of daily new hospital deaths not exceeding five, fewer than two new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents, hospital bed capacity regions must have at least 30 percent of their total hospital beds available before a phased re-opening, availability of 30 percent of ICU beds in a region, diagnostic testing capacity and contact tracing capacity.
"All the arrows are pointed in the right direction and now the question becomes focused on reopening - people have to get back to work and the state needs an economy - but we have to make sure we don't reopen too soon," Cuomo said Thursday.
"We are doing this in a calibrated way and monitoring the data, facts and metrics every single day and using the lessons we've learned from others who have already gone through this.
And right now, based on our criteria we have five regions that are poised to reopen beginning Friday, and as they start to reopen certain businesses we will continue to monitor the level of activity and make sure it doesn't create a second wave of this virus.
New York State, the epicentre of the COVID19 pandemic in the US, has 343,051 confirmed virus cases.