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Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul on NY State's Reopening Plans

HOST, MEGAN CATTEL: This week, Governor Andrew Cuomo released further guidelines on his plan for reopening New York State. In order to do that safely, his team is taking a region by region approach. The 17 counties in Western New York areis preparing to reopen businesses as soon as May 15, when the state’s PAUSE order will expire. But how will this reopening be done safely? I talked with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who is in charge of the Western region’s reopening, on the state’s plans.

LT. GOV. KATHY HOCHUL: While I'm focused on Western New York, I'm what I'm doing there is devising policies that can be replicated throughout the state. First of all, we're going to follow the CDC guidelines and make sure there's been a 14 day decline in positive cases We're going to be monitoring the hospitalization in areas where there are people that need to be in the hospital what their rate is, and do they have enough capacity, making sure you wear your mask and making sure that people in certain settings are wearing gloves and other protective equipment depending on what their business is. And creating workspaces were not just safe for the employer, but also will the employees feel safe to go back there, they're not going to want to go back to the early industries we've identified like construction and manufacturing, unless they feel very confident that we're not disinfected and they'll be protocols where they're not congregating with other people, maybe there's not a break room or a lunch room when they have to maybe be in staggered shifts and a certain percent will work different days of the week. So all these have to be done to instill confidence in the workforce.

CATTEL: It seems like it's up to the individual businesses to make up a plan, but what is the oversight going to look like from the state to make sure that businesses are doing this are there gonna be repercussions for businesses that don't comply? What's that going to look like?

HOCHUL: There absolutely will be. And that is an important enforcement mechanism that you talked about. We can rely on people and their goodwill to do what's right. We also want to let them know that if they don't, there are consequences. Some of our construction sites that do essential work are open now. We're constantly monitoring to make sure that they have social distancing the six feet between worker, and that they're wearing masks and that there have a lot of places they can sanitize their hands and their equipment as they go forth. So we're not just leaving it up to individual businesses, they have to have their plan approved by the state in order to reopen whether it's a specific industry, or a particular mom and pop shop, a little restaurant would have to have a plan that is already that is authorized by the local Empire State Development Agency, and will make sure that the people know what they say they're going to do and that they actually do it.

We don't want to stay closed any longer than necessary, but the worst scenario would be to open prematurely before we are Ready,

CATTEL: I can hear that you are taking this very seriously. And you don't want to open up too prematurely. So I wanted to ask about foreseeing the movement between Western New York counties. How are you preparing for this to happen once the weather is getting good and people are traveling?

HOCHUL: Well, what we're going to make sure we do is don't have what the governor's calling attractive nuisances, some of the fares and some of the festivals and the concerts and all the things that people love to travel around the state and visit, we will not be heavily having those until the entire state is reopened. And we feel confident that it's safe. And we're not anywhere close to that yet. I was just answering phone calls in upstate New York about people. So we still have our county fair at the end of July. So I wouldn't plan on that because what you're doing is creating an environment where you're attracting people from outside your county, your own county may have numbers that are acceptable. But if you're inviting people to travel throughout the state, that's how it spreads. The whole idea is to have more isolation from each other until we get through. This is not permanent. This is not forever. We'll be talking about this time next year about how we overcame this. So we're going to be asking people to continue to sacrifice, knowing that we should have recreation available to people, people need to get outdoors. And that's why we're going to be thoughtful about what activities are going to be allowed, but certainly not large gatherings of people that we're trying so hard to avoid.

CATTEL: That was Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul on the state’s regional plan to reopen New York businesses.


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