Updated: January 27, 2021 11:30 PM
Created: January 27, 2021 07:59 AM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has lifted micro-cluster zone restrictions on most of the state. In his news conference Wednesday, the governor pointed to declining infection and hospitalization rates. This includes Orange and Yellow Zones in the Finger Lakes Region.
Only Yellow Zones in the New York City area, including the Bronx, Queens, Newburgh and Washington Heights remain in place.
BREAKING: All Orange and Yellow zone restrictions in upstate New York have been lifted. @news10nbc— Jennifer Lewke (@WHEC_JLewke) January 27, 2021
Despite the restrictions being lifted, other state-wide rules are still in play. The 10 p.m. curfew for restaurants and bars is still in effect, though Cuomo says the state is "looking into" changes. He says the later a place stays open, the more it could influence increased alcohol drinking. Additionally, tables can seat up to 10 people, and restaurants still have to operate at 50% capacity.
Yellow/Orange zone restrictions in Upstate NY lifted, most notable are: 20% of in-person students/staff tested monthly at schools, 33% capacity at houses of worship, 25% capacity at gyms, weekly COVID testing for hair stylists/barbers and 4 person per-table limit at restaurants.— Jennifer Lewke (@WHEC_JLewke) January 27, 2021
As for retail outlets, they too must operate at no more than 50% capacity. Gyms and fitness centers still can only operate at 33%.
The changes take effect immediately.
Also trying to get clarification for stylists/barbers. While weekly testing is unnecessary, previous guidance referred to, says “Employees shall be tested for COVID-19 every 14 days, so long as the region in which its located remains in Phase III of the State’s reopening.”— Jennifer Lewke (@WHEC_JLewke) January 27, 2021
ALBANY N.Y. (WHEC)— Governor Cuomo is expected to announce Wednesday the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions in New York State.
HOW WE GOT HERE
The most recent slate of restrictions came in the form of the state's micro-cluster strategy, which was unveiled late last year. It's broken down by zones ranging across Yellow, Orange, and Red Zones, with restrictions ranging from little or no indoor dining capacity to elective surgery restrictions, among others.
The COVID-19 focus zones in Monroe County have not changed in two months.
On Nov. 9, the City of Rochester, Greece, Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Perinton, East Rochester, Pittsford, Brighton, Henrietta, Chili and Gates were declared a yellow zone. Then, on Nov. 23, parts of Rochester, Irondequoit, Gates, and Brighton were declared orange zones.
Cuomo said Monday that we have passed the holiday spike in COVID cases, so he believes we can "release the valve." He said the New York State Department of Health was reviewing the data. The news sparked excitement among business owners.
WHAT COULD THIS MEAN?
Cuomo already rolled back restaurant restrictions a couple of weeks ago, when all Orange Zone spots were placed back on Yellow Zone restrictions. The next steps aren't clear, but, prior to the micro-cluster strategy, restaurants could operate at 50% capacity inside, with barriers put in place where six feet of distance couldn't be kept, there also was not a four-person maximum at tables.
The industry, like many others, continues to take a hit, as the National Restaurant Association reported more than 110,000 U.S.restaurants closed either temporarily, or for good, leading to a loss of more than 2.5 million jobs, and $240 billion. Though, there is optimism as restrictions in other states continue to roll back.
For elective surgeries:
On Monday, Governor Cuomo announced he was lifting the ban on elective surgeries in Erie County, although a ban was never put in place here in the Finger Lakes Region, both URMC and Rochester Regional Health put a hold on those surgeries so they could increase hospital capacity. Under the current restrictions, hospitals must be ready to increase hospital capacity by at least 15% within 72 hours. If they can't, hospitals must cancel elective surgeries.
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