COVID-19 Update: Outdoor Dining At Restaurants Will Be Permitted In Phase Two - 27 East

COVID-19 Update: Outdoor Dining At Restaurants Will Be Permitted In Phase Two

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LI Reopens

LI Reopens

authorStaff Writer on May 28, 2020

Wednesday, 2:40 p.m.: Outdoor Restaurant Dining Will Be Permitted In Phase Two

Outdoor dining at restaurants will be allowed starting in phase two of reopening Long Island, rather than having to wait until phase three, as originally planned. The region could be just one week away from entering phase two.

“Outdoor tables must be spaced six feet apart, all staff must wear face coverings and customers must also wear face coverings when not seated,” the announcement from the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo states.

Last Thursday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone ordered the County Department of Health Services to immediately approve all applications for outdoor seating at restaurants — though restaurants also need the permission of their local village or town. Mr. Bellone had requested that the state accelerate the return of outdoor dining.

Restaurants have been permitted during the shutdown to serve take-out and delivery. Sit-down dining at restaurants is included in phase three of reopening.

Regions that are already in phase two may begin outdoor dining on Thursday. Long Island is just one week into phase one, and it is expected that each phase will last approximately two weeks.

Wednesday, 12:30 p.m.: Governor Urges Caution As COVID Crisis And Civil Unrest Overlap

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday is day 95 of the COVID pandemic in New York and also the 10th day of civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. Several times during his daily briefing, the governor unequivocally described the death of Mr. Floyd as “murder.”

Regarding peaceful protesters, Mr. Cuomo defended their “righteous indignation.” He called looters “opportunists” who are taking advantage while police are busy dealing with protesters.

“These are perilous times,” Mr. Cuomo said. “There’s a lot going on, and we have to understand what’s going on and the difference among the issues that we are dealing with.”

It is a racially charged time and a politically charged time, the governor said. “We have to be careful, we have to be very careful, because the consequences are steep on both sides of this equation. So leadership, good government, responsibility is more important than ever before. Especially in these divided times.”

New York has hit the lowest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic, Mr. Cuomo said, and the lowest number of deaths since the daily death toll began to decline. There were 49 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the state Tuesday, including 37 at hospitals and 12 at nursing homes.

“God bless the people of New York for what they did,” Mr. Cuomo said. “God bless the nurses and the doctors and the essential workers and the frontline workers because they saved hundreds of thousands of lives in the State of New York.”

He reminded protesters that COVID “is still out there” and encouraged them to “protest intelligently.”

Tuesday, 3:30 p.m.: Suffolk County Looking At Budget Hole Of $1.1 Billion To $1.5 Billion Over Two And A Half Years

The Suffolk County government is facing a budget hole of between $1.1 billion and $1.5 billion in the next two and a half years, and the county executive is calling for federal assistance so the burden is not borne solely by the local taxpayers.

The cataclysmic impact of COVID-19 on the county’s budget and financial picture was outlined to the County Legislature Budget Committee by a group of municipal and financial experts Tuesday, County Executive Steve Bellone said Tuesday afternoon.

“This impact is far beyond anything we have seen before,” Mr. Bellone said. “We are talking about Depression Era level numbers here.”

The projected deficit is three times the deficit that his administration inherited from the financial crisis of the last decade, he said, noting that the county had an operating surplus in 2019 and was ahead of pace to eliminate its inherited deficit this year.

“It’s clear we have a long road ahead,” he said. “There are going to be tough choices that we have to make. And certainly the work to transform this government, to make it more efficient and productive and to put in the pieces necessary for it to reach its potential, all of that work needs to be accelerated and is critical.

“But I want to be clear, as well, when we talk about this long road ahead,” he continued. “There is no way for the county to fix this problem, this issue, this COVID financial crisis, without assistance from the federal government.”

Mr. Bellone said he is sharing the financial report with members of Suffolk County’s congressional delegation, including Senator Chuck Schumer and U.S. Representatives Lee Zeldin, Tom Suozzi and Peter King.

“If ever there was a time that a local community needed their federal representatives to deliver for them, that moment is right now,” Mr. Bellone said.

Another 275 previously unreported cases of COVID-19 have been added to the count in Suffolk County, bringing the total up to 39,980, Mr. Bellone said. He explained that the number is not just from one day of tests. Rather, it includes positive diagnostic tests from earlier in May that had not been counted previously.

Mr. Bellone said the number jumped off the page because the number of new positive cases daily had fallen below 100 for many days before. But then he learned about the previously unaccounted for tests. “The new positives today are actually in line with what we have seen, with what we have been experiencing, over the last number of weeks,” he said.

The number of people in Suffolk County hospitalized with COVID-19 fell to 247. The number of ICU patients with COVID-19 was unchanged at 67. Of all hospital beds in the county, 62 percent are in use. Of ICU beds, 54 percent are in use.

There were 13 patients discharged from hospitals to continue their recoveries at home, while three patients have died due to COVID-19. The COVID-19 death toll in Suffolk County is now 1,909.

Suffolk County has received 50,000 surgical masks from the Taiwanese government, Mr. Bellone announced. There will be distributed to nursing homes, assisted living facilities and first responder agencies, he said.

Tuesday, 8:30 a.m.: Town Reminds Businesses To File Reopening Plans

As phase one of the reopening plan progresses, East Hampton Town officials reminded businesses that they must read and file an affirmation with the state that they will follow mandated safety protocols, and must prepare and post a state-mandated safety plan before they reopen.

Before reopening any business, the health and safety protocol affirmation must be filed with the state through its NY Forward site: https://forward.ny.gov/ny-forward

Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc and the appointed business recovery group East Hampton urged business owners to immediately review and make arrangements for safe operating procedures, and file the required affirmation with the state, in preparation for immediate reopening when their industry sector is authorized by the state to resume.

A reopening guide, with links to NYS information — including a look-up tool for business owners unsure when they might expect to reopen — has been prepared by the East Hampton Town Business Recovery Group, and can be found at https://ehamptonny.gov/DocumentCenter/View/4539/Website-Navigation- Flyer.

Monday, 3:45 p.m.: County Executive Encourages Protesters To Follow COVID-19 Safety Precautions

As protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis arise around the country, including a few peaceful demonstrations in Suffolk County, the county executive was asked Monday afternoon if he is concerned that the mass gatherings locally will spread COVID-19 or could lead to looting.

County Executive Steve Bellone urged protesters to adhere to safe practices and follow health guidance. He praised both the public and police officers for their behavior at local protests.

Regarding both the latest protests against police violence and earlier protests concerning reopening the economy, Mr. Bellone said: “I really have emphasized how appreciative and grateful I am to the people who have come out to express their concerns and their frustration and anger and have done so in a peaceful way. I think that is incredibly important. That’s exactly what should be happening, and I hope that starts to happen all across the country.”

The Suffolk County Police Department has built bridges with the communities in the county, Mr. Bellone said, and he noted that officers have handed out masks at protests for those who are not wearing face coverings.

“We are always going to be concerned when people are coming together in large gatherings, where they are not practicing social distancing, where they are not following the guidelines of the professionals,” he said. “We want people to be able to protest and express their first amendment rights, but we want people to do that safely.”

Mr. Bellone went on to say, “We don’t to use this moment of pain and anguish in a way that will result in a resurgence of cases that we know have caused so much damage and despair and, frankly, death in our county because of this virus.”

The number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Suffolk County is up by 62 in 24 hours, now reaching 39,705. Additionally, 14,138 people who never had a positive COVID-19 diagnostic test have tested positive for the COVID-19 antibodies as of May 30.

The number of ICU patients in Suffolk County with COVID-19 is 67, down seven. Overall, there are 253 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county, a decline of 16.

Twenty-five people were discharged from hospitals to continue their recovery at home, Mr. Bellone said.

Of all the hospital beds in Suffolk County, 62 percent are currently in use, and of ICU beds specifically, 53 percent are in use.

Sunday, 3:30 p.m.: Dentists Offices Can Reopen Monday

Dentists offices will be allowed to reopen statewide on Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday.

With new guidelines for safety introduced for such practices the governor said that all dentists office may resume work, regardless of which phase of reopening the region they are in is currently working under.

The rate of new coronavirus infections continued to fall over the weekend and hospitals are steadily reducing the number of patients with the COVID-19 disease they have to care for.

Governor Cuomo said that there were new cases identified in 45 counties, however, so the disease is still a threat for expanding, but the statistical indicators continue to be good.

“The reduction in New York’s new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, intubations and other metrics represent tremendous progress from where we were,” Governor Cuomo said. “We have gone through hell and back. We are on the other side and it’s a lesson for all of us -- and we need to stay vigilant as we reopen different parts of the state so that we don’t backslide.”

There were about 1,100 new cases of coronavirus infection identified in the last 24 hours, 111 of those in Suffolk County. There were 56 deaths in that time period also, 9 of which were in Suffolk County.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said that the number of new cases is higher than what he and county health officials would like to see. There were also 18 new cases of the COVID-19 disease serious enough to require hospitalization.

But with 24 people discharged, the total number of hospitalizations continued to fall for the county, a key metric to allowing the region to move to phase 2 of the reopening potentially next week.

Both Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Governor Cuomo dedicated much of the daily press briefings they have held daily for the last 92 days to the protests and unrest that have erupted around the country over the killing of a black man by a police officer in Minneapolis.

Mr. Bellone said that the protests in Suffolk have been peaceful and thanked protestors here for their conduct and Suffolk County Police Deparment officers for the way in which they have handled the protests.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone that’s been out there expressing your rights as an American citizen and doing it peacefully,” Mr. Bellone said. “That’s how you’re supposed to do it.”

Mr. Bellone was also strongly critical of former District Attorney Thomas Spota, whom he called “corrupt” and singled out as having advanced “structural racism” in the county by handling the prosecution of black defendants differently than whites.

Friday, 5 p.m.: Lawmakers Ask Governor To Allow Outdoor Graduation Ceremonies

New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and Assembly members Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Anthony Palumbo on Friday sent a letter urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to allow school districts that can safely hold outdoor graduation ceremonies to move forward with plans for July.

“As residents in our area see people safely gathering in our parks and at our beaches, they would like their local school district to be able to acknowledge students with a much-deserved graduation ceremony,” the trio wrote in the joint letter.

The lawmakers asked Mr. Cuomo to meet with education policy groups, and discuss guidance for districts that would enable safe and appropriate graduation events.

“While health and safety remain our priority, we believe that an outdoor ceremony, with limited attendance and social distancing, could be achieved and graduates could celebrate the culmination of their undergraduate learning in a more traditional manner,” the letter reads.

Friday, 3:50 p.m.: Number Of Hospitalized COVID Patients In Suffolk County Falls Below 300; Camping Reservation System Back Online

The number of patients in Suffolk County hospitals with COVID-19 has fallen below 300 for the first time since the decline began, County Executive Steve Bellone said Friday afternoon.

The number fell by 10 over a 24-hour period, bringing the count down to 291. At the same time, there were eight more deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the county, bringing Suffolk’s coronavirus death toll to 1,879.

The number of people in Suffolk County to test positive for COVID-19 rose 86 to 39,445. Mr. Bellone said under 100 in a day is a good place to be. The number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies while never having a positive diagnostic test is 13,406.

Sixty-eight percent of hospital beds in Suffolk County are being used, and 61 percent of ICU beds specifically are in use.

Also Friday, Mr. Bellone announced that the Suffolk County Parks camping reservation system would be online starting at 4 p.m. for booking from June 15 forward. Reservations may be made online with a valid Green Key at parks.suffolkcountyny.gov/wbwsc/webtrac.wsc/SPLASH.html.

The reservation system had opened up last week but was overwhelmed, Mr. Bellone said.

Friday, 12:45 p.m.: Southampton Beach Closure Order Extended

As expected, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman on Friday extended an executive order closing beaches to day-trippers. Following a weekend that saw crowds of fishermen descend on area bay beaches, the supervisor issued an order May 27 closing beaches to nonresidents. By law, such orders must sunset or be extended after five days.

Town beach parking lots were already restricted to residents and renters under a prior emergency order. The May 27 edict, now extended to June 5, limits the use of all town beaches, not just parking lots, to residents and legal renters and restricts roadside parking near beaches as well.

The order extends the beach parking restrictions to include all town roads within 1,000 feet of a road-end directly leading to a public beach or water body. This change is aimed at stopping the parking of cars throughout town neighborhoods that are within the vicinity of beaches and road-endings leading to the beach, but were not restricted.

Those parking at or near the beach will need to display a valid town parking sticker on their vehicles. Anyone entering the beach, or on the beach, may be asked to provide proof that they are living or renting within the town. Acceptable proof would include a valid New York State driver’s license or nondriver ID showing a Southampton Town address; or a valid car registration showing a Southampton Town address; or a property tax bill or utility bill showing a Southampton Town address, or proof of a legally permitted rental. Police will only ask for identification when overcrowded conditions exist.

Parking on East Landing Road, West Landing Road, and Petrel Lane in the hamlet of Hampton Bays, has also been restricted in the emergency order to parking by permit only. Violators will be asked to leave and could face a penalty if they refuse. Cars not displaying the proper sticker will be ticketed. Cars parked overnight may be towed.

Friday, 8:50 a.m. : Bills To Aid Volunteer Firefighters and Local Municipalities Pass

Two bills put forward by State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. designed to assist volunteers and municipalities were both approved by the Assembly and Senate and await the signature of Governor Andrew.

The first aims to ensure volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance workers receive adequate credits toward their length of service award programs during the COVID-19 outbreak. The second is designed to offer municipalities financial flexibility as they face staggering budgetary impacts of responding to the pandemic.

The first legislation focuses on length of service award programs intended to help recruit, retain and reward volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance workers for their service to the community. Similar to a pension program, volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers to earn points by responding to calls, being on standby, and attending trainings. They need to tally 50 points in a given calendar year.

But safety precautions implemented during the COVID-19 response might limit a volunteer’s ability to amass points, with training sessions canceled and a limit placed on how many people may respond to a call. Volunteers were concerned the precautions could prevent them from earning the necessary number of LOSAP credits this year.

The bill, carried by Mr. Thiele in the Assembly and Senator Todd Kaminsky in the Senate allows active volunteers to earn up to five points per month during the COVID-19 pandemic, and establishes a flexible and more equitable system by authorizing departments to determine emergency response requirements for certain LOSAP participants.

“Volunteer fire and ambulance workers have been rightfully lauded as some of the heroes of the COVID-19 outbreak. We must ensure that among their many sacrifices during this time, their LOSAP awards are not jeopardized,” the assemblyman said in a release announcing the legislation’s passage.

The second bill seeks to address the COVID-19 public health crisis that has increased the financial burdens on local governments. It provides financial and budgetary flexibility to local governments, by extending the “rollover” period for bond anticipation notes issued in calendar years 2015 through 2021.

Temporarily extending the rollover period by an additional two years for BANs would create another option for a municipalities in a volatile market environment, and aid municipalities in managing future fiscal challenges emanating from the COVID-19 emergency. The Legislature enacted similar extensions of the maximum maturity of BANs issued in calendar years 2004 and 2005, in response to the 2008-2009 economic downturn, and in calendar years 2007 and 2008, following Superstorm Sandy, Mr. Thiele explained.

Additionally, the bill gives local governments and school districts the ability to access their capital reserve funds without the need to comply with referendum requirements. It temporarily permits local governments and school districts to advance money from reserves to cover operating costs attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, this legislation extends the maximum time for repayment of an advance made from one fund of a municipal corporation to another fund, if the money is needed to cover COVID-19 costs.

Repayment to the fund can take place at the close of the following fiscal year. Prior to the passage of the legislation, the money had to be repaid within the same fiscal year.

In a release announcing the passage of the bill, Mr. Thiele said, “Local governments here on Long Island and across New York State are reeling from the financial devastation of COVID-19, both through substantial losses in revenue and through the tremendous cost of combatting the virus, while still maintaining critical services. We must equip municipalities with every possible tool to continue to do so. As the Assembly Chair of the Local Governments Committee, I am proud to sponsor this legislation to provide our local governments with the flexibility they need to continue to effectively operate.”

Thursday, 4 p.m.: County Executive Wants To Fast Track Outdoor Dining; Courts Open Friday

When outdoor dining is once again permitted on Long Island, Suffolk County will immediately approve any application for outdoor restaurant seating.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone issued an executive order instructing the Suffolk County Health Services Department to grant automatic approval to restaurants seeking to expand their seating outdoors. However, restaurants will still need to have permission from their village or town to move forward.

Mr. Bellone said Thursday afternoon during his daily COVID-19 briefing that he wants to see the return of outdoor dining accelerated. As it stands, restaurants are permitted to serve take-out and delivery only. Under the current plan outlined by New York State, sit-down service at restaurants will not resume until phase three of Long Island’s reopening. Phase one started just this week on Long Island, and it could be another four weeks before phase three starts.

“The governor has indicated that you can possibly see a shortening of those phases, based on evidence that we see or data that we see,” Mr. Bellone said. “You could see certain activities that are moved up, and I think outdoor dining is clearly one of those that, with the right protocols in place, is much, much safer.”

His executive order is intended to make sure that nothing will hinder outdoor dining when the time comes, he said.

The county executive also noted that judges and staff will return to courthouses on Friday, beginning the process of courts returning to normal operations.

In the latest 24-hour reporting period, 10 people have died in Suffolk County due to COVID-19. The death toll now stands at 1,871.

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Suffolk County declined by 4 and is now 301. The number of ICU patients decreased two to 92. Suffolk County hospital beds are 66 percent full, an ICU beds specifically are 58 percent full.

Thursday, 12:30 p.m.: Governor Cuomo, Chris Rock and Rosie Perez Talk Masks

Speaking from Brooklyn on Thursday morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to sign an executive order giving private businesses the authority to deny entry to anyone not wearing a mask.

“It gives shop owners the right to say, ‘If you’re not wearing a mask, you can’t come in,’” he said.

People have a right to decide to not wear a mask on a public street, but they don’t have the right to cause others in a store to run out, he said.

In sections of Brooklyn and the other outer boroughs of New York City — particularly areas that are predominantly low income with a minority population — the governor said his daughters told him he lacked the “edge” necessary to get his message out adequately. So, Mr. Cuomo said, he would call in “reinforcements” from Brooklyn. He introduced comedian Chris Rock and actress Rosie Perez, inviting them to join an educational campaign.

“Posse up and get tested,” Mr. Rock said, joking, “I got tested today and I got a 65.”

Ms. Perez urged viewers of the daily update to “spread love the Brooklyn way” by wearing masks or face coverings. “Mi gente,” she added, “get tested. Wear a mask. This is real.”

Mr. Rock reported that as he travels around Brooklyn — where in some neighborhoods the infection rate doubles that of the city overall — “about 40 percent” of people he sees are wearing masks. “It’s sad,” he said. “Our health has become a political issue.”

All three acknowledged that conflicts over the masks have occurred.

Mr. Rock said he doesn’t confront people he sees not wearing masks, but “I give a nice side eye.”

Ms. Perez said she chooses to react with humor and, referencing her role in Spike Lee’s classic film, tells people “Do the Right Thing.” She emphasized that the failure to wear masks among young people is evident in affluent areas of the city as well.

“Everybody needs to get on board,” she said.

Governor Cuomo opened his daily update reiterating the sentiment he offered the previous day, when he traveled to the White House to meet with President Donald Trump. He railed against partisan politics that he describes as “toxic” in Washington, D.C., and called for federal funding for states and local businesses. Washington should put an end to the proclivity for making every piece of legislation pork barrel legislation.

“Maybe just pass a bill on the merits of the bill,” he said.

Bills to address the COVID-19 crisis have been “a gravy train,” he said, leaving hardest hit states like New York and New Jersey shortchanged. The money, he said, was disconnected from coronavirus response and cost. Some states received millions of dollars per COVID-19 case. He called on Washington, D.C., to “be smart for a change,” as states across the nation reopen.

“Forget your politics,” he said. “Stop the hyper-political gridlock.”

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