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Cuomo announces parts of New York state could reopen Friday: 'It's an exciting new phase'

Some areas of New York state will be allowed to reopen Friday, beginning the “next big step in this historic journey,” Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis Cuomo says New York can begin to loosen restrictions: 'Don't get cocky with COVID' Disjointed vaccine distribution poses early test for Biden MORE (D) announced Monday.

Three upstate regions will be allowed to reopen in a phased manner after meeting metrics laid out by the state government, Cuomo said. But areas of the state that have been hardest hit by COVID-19, including New York City and Long Island, have not yet met those requirements as of Monday.

“In my point of view, we’re on the other side of the mountain,” Cuomo said during a news conference. “We have abated the worst by what we’ve done, and now we can intelligently turn toward reopening.”

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The phased approach allows construction, manufacturing and wholesale supply chain businesses to reopen Friday in regions that meet several requirements. Some retail outlets can reopen if they offer curbside pickup.

Businesses that reopen must screen workers, follow social distancing requirements, adjust workplace hours to avoid crowding and follow strict cleaning and sanitation guidelines. Some employees will also have to wear masks.

Cuomo said regions must scale restrictions back up if COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates increase.

He said the impact of the reopenings will be evaluated after two weeks, when decisions will also be made about whether to proceed to phase two of the plan. If no negative impact of the first phase is seen, more businesses, including professional services, finance and insurance, retail, administrative support and real estate and rental leasing, would be allowed to reopen in some capacity.

“It’s an exciting new phase,” Cuomo said. “We’re all anxious to get back to work. We want to do it smartly. We want to do it intelligently.”

The Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley regions have met the requirements for partial reopening Friday.

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Other regions of the state have not yet met requirements for reopening, which include a 14-day decline in deaths and new COVID-19 cases, and increased testing and contract tracing.

New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioDisjointed vaccine distribution poses early test for Biden Fauci said second COVID-19 vaccine shot knocked him out for 24 hours Ohio vaccine distributor suspended after improperly storing, spoiling 890 doses MORE (D) said Monday he doesn’t expect nonessential businesses to reopen until June.

Overall, the state is continuing to see a downward trend in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, intubations and deaths, Cuomo said.

The state reported an additional 161 deaths Monday. In all, about 335,400 confirmed COVID-19 cases have been identified in New York, including 26,600 deaths.

--This report was updated at 1:04 p.m.