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Madison County ends ‘frustrating’ daily state calls, for now. 5 upstate regions set to enter Phase 4

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo
Madison County Board Chairman John Becker.

Central and northern New York, the Mohawk Valley, Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions are set to enter Phase 4 of reopening on Friday, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. That includes guidance on reopening higher education, arts and entertainment, professional sports and movie productions. 

What’s not included in Phase 4 yet, are gyms, shopping malls, and movie theaters. But while visiting Syracuse on Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said Phase 4 will continue to have opening announcements throughout the summer.

“While they may not be designated for the first day of Phase 4, Phase 4 is going to continue on,” Hochul said. “This is not the one-time-only opportunity to hear about businesses and activities approved, just because they may not be on that list for the very first day.”

Credit Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media
WRVO Public Media
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul in Syracuse on Wednesday.

Not everyone is on board with the governor’s plan. Madison County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Becker said they are withdrawing from the daily control room calls with state representatives, for now, saying the calls are frustrating.

“Phase 4 to us meant that Phase 4 was the end,” Becker said. “We’re ready to open. Our businesses are ready to open. We don’t want any more lip service. We want to get this economy back moving, while keeping everybody safe.”

Becker said businesses should follow the state guidelines, but he said Madison County is not going to penalize anyone by sending out the sheriff and health department.

“We have businesses that want to open, that need to open, we want to take care of our communities,” Becker said. “I don’t want to just be whistling in the air here on these phone calls, getting more and more frustrated. We don’t want to fight with the governor. We don’t want to fight with Albany. We just want them to use a little common sense when they’re coming out with this stuff. They need to get the economy moving.”

Phase 4 does allow for increasing social gatherings from 25 to 50 people. Religious gatherings can go from 25 to 33% capacity.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.