The Mid-Hudson Region officially reopened for phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan on Tuesday. Like other municipalities, the City of Newburgh has been cautiously preparing for phase 3.
“I’m cautiously excited about moving to Phase 3,” said Councilman Anthony Grice. “More activities and businesses will be able to open up, and capacity will increase in some locations. We still need to keep the safety measures in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
Alexandra Church, City planner, presented a comprehensive plan on Monday of activities the city will be taking on for a fun filled but safe summer. The plan also included street closures and other measures to accommodate businesses and restaurants.
One of these measures is a temporary permit expansion of sidewalk cafes. Restaurants are already allowed sidewalk cafes, but now they will be able to apply for a permit to add on cafe space in designated public parking areas.
“We’re really excited about phase 3,” said Mayor Torrance Harvey. “With the restaurants, they can have people now, starting tomorrow, dining in at 50 percent capacity.”
Phase 3 allows restaurants to allow 50 percent capacity when it comes to indoor dining. In phase two restaurants were able to offer outdoor dining. Excited diners went to eat at restaurants that offered outdoor dining this past weekend in Newburgh.
Current restrictions require that diners have masks while being inside restaurants, but diners are allowed to not wear masks at their tables outside.
“‘I mean I’m happy for the restaurants, because this is the only way they’re going to survive,” said Councilwoman Patty Sofokles. “I think people are starting to understand that they have to adhere to the face mask rules. I think people are starting to understand that.”
Nail salons, tattoo parlors and spas can also open. In phase 3, a number of youth sports can resume on July 6. Gatherings up to 25 people are also allowed in phase 3.
At the discretion of local governments, playgrounds and pools have been allowed to reopen in any phase.
“I’m excited but nervous at the same time,” said Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde. “It makes me very nervous. I feel like we’re opening maybe a little too soon. But on the other hand, I understand that businesses, they need to be up and running. It’s been extremely difficult for them.”
With state reopenings come fears over the potential of a second wave of COVID-19 hitting areas. South Korea recently confirmed a second wave. Other states like Florida and Georgia have been experiencing an increased number of COVID-19 cases after reopening.
As of Monday, Orange County had 10,733 people who have tested positive for COVID-19. The number went up by 30 people from last Friday. The county had a total of 477 people who passed away. There was no increase in deaths over the weekend.
There were 1,296 people who were hospitalized and discharged. 81 percent of ICU beds are available. 48 people were hospitalized. Nine of the people were confirmed positive, the others are under investigation. Last Friday the number was at 58 people, the number of hospitalizations is now down by 10 people. The county’s numbers have been steadily going down.
The City of Newburgh specifically had 1,582 reported cases of COVID-19. The Town of New Windsor had 882 reported cases. The Town of Newburgh had 759 cases.
The number of COVID-19 cases have been slowly but steadily going down all over the state.
“The governor has done a pretty good job overseeing this process,” said Sofokles.
Although the current prognosis seems to look promising for the state, precautions are still in place to avoid a potential second wave.
“Absolutely,” said Mayor Torrance Harvey when asked if he had concerns over a potential second wave. “We are definitely very much concerned. We have an 11 million dollar deficit. Because of the first wave, we went into a complete self quarantine. We had to shut down.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdowns caused a dent to the nation’s economy and the global economy as a whole.
“We had to make some really really tough decisions in 2019 for the fiscal year 2020 for police and firefighter layoffs,” said Harvey. “Had we not, and no one knew corona was going to happen here in America, and had we not made those tough decisions; we really would have been bankrupt pretty much.”