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WNY economic region gets the go-ahead to enter Phase Three beginning Tuesday

Flickr/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made it official during his Monday morning briefing: the Western New York economic region will advance to the next phase of reopening Tuesday, with entry into Phase Three.

Phase Three includes indoor food service and a variety of personal care businesses including nail salons, tattoo parlors, massage therapists and spas.

Governor Cuomo, on Monday, said the data continues to show the state, overall, continues to head in the right direction following its COVID-19 peak earlier this spring.

"We're going to modify Phase Three given this new data, and we're going to allow gatherings up to 25 people in Phase Three, which is up from 10 people, because the numbers are good in most parts of the state," Cuomo said. "Western New York will enter Phase Three tomorrow, and that's exciting. The Capital Region will be entering Phase Three on Wednesday. That's exciting."

The Western New York economic region, as defined by Empire State Development, is made up of Niagara, Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties. The Finger Lakes region, which includes Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming Counties and the City of Rochester, were cleared to enter Phase Three last week.

Guidelines are provided by the state for operating eligible businesses while maintaining measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Just as businesses in Phases One and Two were required to do, businesses reopening under Phase Three must prepare a safety plan. The state provides templates for the respective industries on its Forward NY website. While approval by a state agency is not necessary, business owners are required to post the plan on site for review by employees or other interested parties.

"We have months of data now that says the guidelines make sense," Cuomo said. "Keep following them, because they are working."

During his announcement, the governor suggested "everyone has a role to play" but sent a message directly to local governments: Enforce the social distancing and other health safety rules still in place.

"Do your job. Local governments are supposed to be enforcing compliance," he said. "Compliance is hard. Why because people have been cooped up for a long time and they want to do what they want to do.

"I get it. But we have to stay smart, and if the local governments don't enforce compliance, they're not doing anyone a favor. Because if they don't enforce compliance, you will see the numbers start to go up. As the numbers start to go up. You're going to have to see that area take a step back."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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