ALBANY, NY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Saturday, May 23 that the mid-Hudson region—which includes Sullivan County—has achieved the COVID-19 necessary metrics to move to phase one of reopening economic activity. Cuomo announced that the region will reopen on Tuesday, May 26.
In New York State, there are four phases to reopening and the first phase allows for the opening of construction and manufacturing. Retail stores are limited to curbside pickup. If COVID-19 cases don’t rise for the next two weeks, the region can move to phase two of reopening.
Cuomo said that the mid-Hudson region had hit the marks for declining hospital deaths and also had hired a sufficient number of contact tracers to move to phase one.
Along with Sullivan County, the mid-Hudson region includes Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, Ulster, Putnam and Westchester counties. The mid-Hudson is at the top of the list of regions hit hardest by the pandemic in NYS, especially in Westchester County.
In advance of Memorial Day, Cuomo issued a new executive order allowing groups of up to 10 people to gather for Memorial Day or religious gatherings or “any lawful purpose or reason.” People in those gatherings must maintain social distancing.
Cuomo’s shutdown policy has sparked a lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) on May 22 on behalf of Linda Bouferguen, a Brooklyn resident who was twice arrested outside of New York City Hall for protesting the governor’s shutdown policy.
The lawsuit argues that if the state is going to allow veterans and worshipers to gather in groups of 10, it must also allow gatherings of protesters. Christopher Dunn, legal director at the NYCLU, said, “Having recognized that small events now can take place safely, the government does not get to pick who gets to exercise First Amendment rights.”
The protest events organized by Bouferguen were fairly small and most of the participants wore masks, according to the lawsuit.
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