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Five regions of New York cleared for Phase 3 of reopening

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The five regions of New York that have been in Phase 2 of reopening for the last two weeks have been cleared to move into Phase 3 starting Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.

Cuomo said data from the last two weeks from central New York, the North County, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley has been reviewed, and those five regions can move into Phase 3. The move to the next phase of reopening allows restaurants to serve customers indoors, at 50% capacity. Tables must be spaced at least six feet apart, employees must wear masks at all time, and customers must wear masks when not seated at a table.

Personal care services, including nail salons, tattoo parlors, spas, and massage therapists can also reopen, with restrictions.

Not included in the Phase 3 guidelines are gyms, fitness centers, or shopping malls. During his briefing Thursday, Cuomo warned business owners about opening before the state's guidance allows.

"The rules are clear. Some businesses say 'my mayor said this, my Aunt Tilly said this would be okay, my town councilor said this would be okay.' That doesn't count," Cuomo said. "Follow the rules. You could lose your liquor license. You could lose your license to operate. So this is very serious. Short-term gain isn't worth long-term pain."

Cuomo also announced that municipal pools and playgrounds can reopen, but the decision will be left to local officials.

"They have the test data, they should be studying the test data, they should be looking at those positives and see where the positives are coming from," he said. "If the positives are in a neighborhood that has that pool, don't open the pool. Everybody wants to swim, I understand. Everybody doesn't want to see a spike in COVID again, so use your judgment. Sometimes yes is not the right answer."

Several municipalities in the state have already said their pools would remain closed this summer. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said he would like to open a few of the city's pools, but the city may not have the funding to do it.