WNY On Track for Phase 2 Reopening

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - "We're on track to hit Phase 2 next Tuesday," said Lieutenent Governor Kathy Hochul in an interview with WBEN Tuesday morning.  But she cautions, "Memorial Day could have a bad impact right when we're starting to look at those final numbers before Tuesday."

Hochul said she should have a clear idea of how things are going to look by Friday of this week.  "I like the trend that we're experiencing. If people would just do what we're asking them to do, wear your mask and stay apart, then we can get to Phase 2, 3 and 4 and then we're in the home stretch."

Phase 2 businesses, retail, professional services, finance, insurance, administrative support and real estate, may not get a lot of notice about reopening.  And Hochul says there will be more guidance in the coming days. 

One benefit this region has, is watching the Finger Lakes and Central New York. Those areas are going to Phase 2 on Friday of this week. "We will get a heads-up and be able to see what the state is expecting of them," said Hochul.

"I have to remind every business that in order to reopen in any capacity, they have to go online to forward.ny.gov  to fill out a form and certifiy that they're going to follow the protocols and keep a copy in their workplace to show employees and customers."

Hochul called weekend holiday gatherings in Western New York a mixed bag. "I was personally checking out parks and Erie Basin Marina. I saw a high number of people without masks, and a few with masks. I think that people are starting to think that the worst is over. The worst may be over in terms of a spike in cases, but until there's an understanding that this is truly gone from the community, or that there's a vaccine, I don't know why people wouldn't take those precautions.

Massive Memorial Day gatherings that caught the attention of the nation, did not go unnoticed by Hochul, including crowds at pool parties at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. "It was nothing short of appalling to know that people were so cavalier, so careless about their health and the health of other people. The images we saw in the Ozarks, those were friends and family, people from all over the country. We don't know what they were exposed to.  I think people forget that we're in the throws of a global pandemic. Let's just get through this. We've taken extraordinary means to get this virus under control. It doesn't take much to wear a mask. It really doesn't."