ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday said New York City has not met the thresholds needed to begin the first phase of reopening, even as regions of upstate are moving toward the second phase of restarting their economies after being shut down more than two months ago.
“There are no different rules. … I want to be able to say to every New Yorker, ‘I believe it is safe to reopen … for my kids, I believe it is safe for your kids,'” the governor said. “We don’t change what is safe from one place to another.”
Long Island, another hard-hit region of the state, also has not met the minimum standards to begin the first phase of reopening, the governor said.
The governor, delivering his daily coronavirus task force briefing at a Boys and Girls Club in Brooklyn, said he will sign an executive order Thursday allowing private businesses to “deny entrance to people who do not wear a mask or a face covering.”
Masks “are amazingly effective and we’ve made them mandatory in public settings,” Cuomo said. “But when we’re talking about reopening stores and places of business, we’re giving the store owners the right to say, ‘If you’re not wearing a mask you can’t come in.’ … You don’t have a right to expose the store owner to a virus; you don’t have that constitutional right.”
The metrics that require each of the state’s 10 economic regions to reopen include reducing COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates, and having enough testing and tracing capacity.
“If you look at the curve right now, you see our numbers are going down,” Cuomo said. But he cautioned that New York City will be held to the same standards as the upstate regions that are nearly all in their second week of reopening.
“I’m not going to open any region that I don’t believe is safe, and we have different standards across the nation,” Cuomo said. “You could argue about whether or not we should have different standards of safety in this nation.”
Cuomo invited actress Rosie Perez and comedian Chris Rock to the briefing. The stars both urged New Yorkers and others to be tested and wear masks.
“Everybody, please, spread love the Brooklyn way — get tested, wear a mask,” Perez said. “Our governor is a rock star and he makes me proud to be from New York.”
“You guys are the rock stars; I’m just a fan,” Cuomo responded.
Rock, noting he hasn’t been behind a microphone since the pandemic began, said he watches Cuomo daily.
“You bring me calm; you bring me joy … ’cause I don’t know what’s going on,” Rock said, adding he had been tested for coronavirus before attending the news conference. “I got a 65. Just passed.
Rock added, “If you love your grandmother … you should get tested. … Everybody that can get tested should get tested as soon as possible.”