ALBANY – It appears the effort to enter Phase 2 of the the Forward New York reopening process Friday for five regions of the state has hit a stumbling block. That’s according to a report from the Albany Times Union.
The five regions include the Mohawk Valley, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Central New York.
Western New York – which includes Chautauqua County – is not part of the original five that entered Phase 1 on May 15. It entered Phase 1 on Tuesday, May 19.
As part of the Forward New York plan announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this month, regions were told that if their seven key COVID-19 tracking metrics held for two weeks, they would be able to enter the next phase of the reopening process. Phase 2 would include several professional service businesses, along with retail operations.
However, during an 11th hour conference call early Thursday night, officials from those five regions learned none of the original 5 regions would move on to Phase 2 today (Friday).
Instead, international experts would review each region’s data first before making a decision. State officials said the Phase 2 delay could only last a day, but that was not a given.
Meanwhile, there’s also been lack of instruction on how to proceed with Phase 2. Members of the control rooms said they were told Wednesday that updated Phase 2 guidance would go live on the state’s website that evening, but it never came to fruition.
The overall confusion has frustrated county and local leaders who participate in daily regional control room meetings.
Locally, Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel told WRFA that he remains confident Western New York will be able to enter Phase 2 next Tuesday, June 2 – after being given assurance by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul that it would occur next week. However, Wendel made his statement late Thursday morning, prior to the news that there would be a delay for the other five regions.