New York reopening guide: What’s open and what you need to know

June 24, 2020

Photo by Victor He on Unsplash

In early May, Governor Cuomo revealed that businesses across New York would reopen in four phases. He divided the state into 10 regions and created seven metrics that would determine when a region could begin the process. As of Monday, New York City finally entered phase two, which permits outdoor dining, in-store retail, hair salons, playgrounds, and more. To help make all the transitions a bit easier, we’ve put together a guide that breaks down what exactly is being monitored to determine reopening, what businesses are allowed to reopen in each phase, and other important info like transportation and testing.

Opening Criteria

Governor Cuomo first enacted the New York PAUSE order on March 22. The first regions to begin reopening did so when it expired on May 15. The seven points that a region had to meet to begin to reopen will be monitored throughout the process to determine if they can proceed to the next phase or if measures need to be tightened. This is all being tracked daily in the State’s Regional Monitoring Dashboard. There are 10 “regional control rooms,” command centers of sorts where government, academic, and healthcare professionals (see the members of each control room here) are monitoring these metrics in real-time. The seven metrics are as follows:

  1. 14-day decline in hospitalizations OR under 15 new hospitalizations (3-day average)
  2. 14-day decline in hospitalized deaths OR under 5 new (3-day average)
  3. New hospitalizations — under 2 per 100,000 residents (3-day rolling average)
  4. Share of total beds available (threshold of 30%)
  5. Share of ICU beds available (threshold of 30%)
  6. 30 per 1,000 residents tested monthly (7-day average of new tests per day)
  7. 30 contact tracers per 100,000 residents or to meet current infection rate.

Four phases

Once a region is cleared to begin reopening, they’ll start with phase one and make their way through the other phases. Here’s what’s allowed to reopen in each phase:

Phase one

  • Construction
    • More than 33,000 construction sites will now be operational
    • Masks must be provided by the employer and worn within six feet of another worker
    • No congregate meetings
  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting
  • Retail Trade (delivery, curbside, and in-store pickup service only)
    • Employees and purchasers must wear masks; gloves are preferred
    • Hand sanitizer must be available
    • For in-store pickup where curbside is not an option: pre-arranged orders only, no browsing, social distancing required
  • Manufacturing
  • Landscaping

Phase two

  • Offices
    • Professional services
    • nonprofit
    • technology
    • administrative support
    • higher education administration (excluding full campus reopening)
  • Real estate
    • residential property management entities
    • real estate salespeople/brokers (in-person showings are only for non-occupied units/homes)
    • building inspectors
    • building appraisers
  • Commercial Building Management
  • In-store non-essential and essential retail businesses
  • Outdoor dining
  • Vehicle sales, leases, and rental activities
  • Retail rental, repair, and cleaning activities
  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Places of Worship with 25-percent occupancy

Phase three

  • Restaurants and food services for indoor dining
  • Hotels and accommodations (including amenity spaces and dining)
  • Personal-care services (nail salons, tanning, waxing, massage parlors)

Phase four

  • Professional sports without fans
  • Low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment, including zoos and botanical gardens, operating at 33-percent capacity
  • Low-risk indoor arts and entertainment, including museums and aquariums, operating at 25-percent capacity
  • Film and movie production
  • Higher education
  • Indoor religious gatherings, operating at 33-percent capacity
  • Social gatherings of up to 50 people

Regardless of phases, beginning June 26, the state will allow outdoor, socially distanced graduations of up to 150 people.

Public transportation

When New York City entered phase one on June 8th, the New York City subway resumed regular service, with the exception of overnight service, as the system will remain closed each day between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. for nightly disinfection. Some of what the MTA has put in place for reopening includes:

  • A requirement that all riders and workers wear masks
  • Hand sanitizer dispensers at several stations, which are activated by a foot pedal
  • Floor markings for social distancing on platforms
  • Additional platform controllers, MTA Police, and other station personnel to monitor conditions and assist with crowding

Subway and bus service remains for essential workers and essential trips.


Currently, there are more than 700 COVID testing sites across the state. In New York City, there are 240 testing sites. Coronavirus testing is now be free to all New Yorkers, regardless of symptoms or level of priority, and the city is deploying mobile testing centers. Governor Cuomo announced that the state would be launching a new focused strategy with roughly 35,000 tests per day to closely monitor things as the city enters phase one. The state is also prioritizing 15 testing sites across the city for those who have participated in recent protests. NYC residents can visit to find a nearby testing site. The city has hired more than 3,700 contact tracers.

What’s next?

Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier on are on track to enter phase four on Friday. Western New York and the Capital Region remain in phase three; Long Island entered phase three today, and the Mid-Hudson Valley is on track to enter phase three next week. If New York City continues on its current trajectory, it will enter phase three at the beginning of July.

Of the 51,144 tests conducted in New York State on Tuesday, June 23rd, only 581, or 1.1 percent, were positive. In New York City, 1.2 percent were positive. On Friday, the governor delivered his final daily press briefing after 111 days. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive, and more phase guidelines can be found HERE >>

“Our approach has been vindicated and the phased reopening based on facts is working,” Governor Cuomo said today. “I said from day one that the theory the virus should be handled politically can’t be done. The virus doesn’t respond to political theory – it responds to science and data. We’re going ahead with our metrics and our phased reopening, and five regions are set to enter Phase IV on Friday. The numbers continue trending in the right direction as we went from one of the highest infections rates to one of the lowest in the country, so we will also allow slightly larger social and religious gatherings, but people need to continue wearing masks, socially distancing and washing their hands frequently to stay safe.”

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on May 4, 2020 and has been updated with new information.


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