Long Island officially entered the fourth and final phase of reopening from the coronavirus shutdown on Wednesday, but there are still social-distancing rules in place and some industries not cleared to restart.
Phase four includes higher education, recreation, and arts and entertainment, such as museums, zoos, aquariums, historical sites, film production studios, and public gardens. But New York State officials recently bumped malls, gyms, and movie theaters from phase four as health experts study the best practices to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in such facilities.
“There is much work still to be done, but this is a significant milestone, entering that final phase,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told reporters during his daily COVID-19 news briefing.
The development comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo increased to 19 the number of coronavirus hot-spot states from which travelers must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in New York State due to cases spiking in other regions nationwide.
While the public must still wear masks in crowded places and stay six feet apart when possible to avoid spreading the virus under phase four, restrictions are easing. For example, allowable gatherings have been increased from 25 to 50 and houses of worship can now allow 33 percent capacity. But catering halls are only allowed to act as restaurants, not host large gatherings.
Aside from malls, gyms, and movie theaters, it’s also unclear when casinos, amusement parks, and schools will reopen. President Donald Trump has urged schools to reopen in the fall, but Cuomo is taking a wait-and-see approach for September.
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