Rockland County and the Mid-Hudson region have now entered Phase 1 of the NY Forward reopening plan. I understand that many people still have questions about what this means and what happens next so I want to take this opportunity to provide some clarity.
The NY Forward plan separates industries into four Phases. This is being done so that each step forward can be assessed to ensure we aren’t seeing an uptick in cases due to this new business activity. This first Phase, which we entered on Tuesday, May 26, allows for businesses in the following categories to resume activity:
- Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
- Retail – (Limited to curbside or in-store pickup or drop off)
- Wholesale Trade
Additional details about the specifics of this phase are available at FORWARD.NY.GOV and we expect more information to be posted there on Phases 2, 3 and 4 shortly.
Now, for those of you who may be going back to work at one of these businesses, shopping curbside or who may now have someone like a plumber or electrician visiting your home I want to reassure you. Each business, before it reopens, must review their industry specific guidelines, affirm to NYS that they have read these guidelines and complete a Business Safety Plan.
These plans may involve the follow precautions; putting in place social distancing protocols, requiring all employees and customers to wear masks if in frequent close contact with others, screening individuals for illness and implementing strict cleaning and sanitation standards.
These requirements will certainly change your experience, but they will also ensure we are moving forward in a way that protects employees and customers. We have great respect for our local business community and know that they will do what is required to protect everyone’s health and safety. All across Rockland we are approaching these next steps with safety first, people always as our motto.
As industries continue getting back to work you should know that we will be keeping a close eye on any new infections. To date, 351 Rockland County and other municipal employees have completed the Johns Hopkins contact tracing training program. Thank you to each and every one of these hardworking individuals who have stepped up on short notice and completed the on-line training.
Between this ramped up tracing program and the abilities of our Health and Planning Department we will be able to track any new infections in real-time to help prevent the further spread of this disease. During the measles outbreak we used contact tracing to great effect to bring that outbreak to a stop and we expect to be able to do the same thing with COVID-19.
Now for those of you getting back to business this is no time to let up on the practices that helped us flatten the curve and bring us back to the point we were able to reopen.
Please continue to social distance whenever and wherever possible. If you cannot social distance, then wear a mask or face covering. Practice good hygiene and proper handwashing, 20 seconds with soap and warm water or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
But the bottom line is this, by working together, by doing the right thing for each other, we will get through this and come out of it stronger than ever before. Rockland is no stranger to adversity and I know that we will overcome any challenge that is placed before us.