As five regions of New York begin Phase Four of reopening their economies later this week — encompassing most of upstate — the state released guidance Wednesday on what would be allowed to open, including low-risk arts and entertainment venues.
That means that, when regions begin Phase Four, some facilities and industries will remain closed. That includes shopping malls, gyms, and movie theaters.
The guidance will, instead, apply to higher education institutions, low-risk arts and entertainment venues, and media production companies. New York hasn’t yet decided if colleges will resume in-person learning in the fall, but released guidance to prepare those institutions.
According to the guidance, several venues will be allowed to reopen, both indoor and outdoor.
Outdoor zoos, botanical gardens, nature parks, outdoor museums, and other outdoor arts and entertainment venues will be allowed to open with certain guidelines. That includes limiting the number of visitors and staff, and maintaining appropriate safeguards and social distancing.
Indoor museums, art galleries, historical sites, aquariums, and other related facilities will also be allowed to reopen. Visitors will be required to wear a face covering and maintain appropriate social distancing, and the number of people admitted will also be limited.
Media production will also be allowed to resume during Phase Four, but with certain safeguards. That includes television, movie, and music production. Those rules don’t apply to news media companies, which have been labeled as essential businesses.
Social gatherings of up to 50 people will also be allowed in Phase Four, and religious gatherings will be allowed at up to a third of a building's capacity.
Five regions of the state will begin Phase Four on Friday: Central New York, the Finger Lakes, the North Country, the Mohawk Valley, and the Southern Tier.
Each of those regions entered Phase Three almost two weeks ago. The state has maintained about two weeks for regions between each phase of reopening their economy, which means those five regions are due to advance.
None of the regions have reported a major uptick in new cases of hospitalizations since they started the reopening process last month. There was a caveat that regions could be forced to pause their reopening if their numbers went up. That hasn’t been the case.
Each region of the state, minus New York City, is currently in Phase Three, but Long Island, the Mid-Hudson Region, the Capital Region, and Western New York have been a few days behind the state’s other regions in moving to the next phase.
If there’s no uptick in the numbers, Western New York and the Capital Region could move to Phase Four by the end of the month. Long Island and the Mid-Hudson region just entered Phase Three this week.
Venues and businesses considered to be high risk will remain closed during Phase Four, meaning the state will release additional guidance in the future to allow them to reopen. That will be based on the progress the state makes in containing the disease in the coming months.
Gyms, movie theaters, and shopping malls will remain closed, though stores with outdoor entrances at shopping malls have been allowed to open in regions outside New York City. Large gatherings are also still banned, meaning performance venues also can’t host events.