Duffy: ‘Couldn’t be happier’ about Rochester, Finger Lakes advancing to phase two of reopening

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy gave an update on the region’s reopening status Friday.

Duffy was tasked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to serve as as special regional advisor to assist the Rochester and Finger Lakes region in its reopening efforts.

Earlier Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the Rochester and Finger Lakes region was one of five statewide that got the green light to advance into phase two under the New York state reopening guidelines.

Businesses that will be allowed to reopen under phase two include Barbershops/Hair salons; Commercial Buildings; Retail Rental, Repair, and Cleaning; Auto Dealerships/Rentals; Offices; General Retail (with restrictions); and Real Estate.

MORE | New York releases guidance for phase two as five regions receive approval

Duffy said Friday that phase two went into effect immediately.

“Could not be happier, we’re in phase two,” Duffy said. “All the great work people are doing — we were the first region to be called by governor’s team to announce this.”

Duffy addressed some of the misinterpretations regarding timelines of phase reopening evaluations.

“I have said repeatedly, there’s going to be at least two weeks between phases,” Duffy said. “He announced and finalized at 1 p.m. We are strong advocates for businesses, we want folks to be open. I get the anger and frustration, we advocate for all businesses.”

Some developers were “disappointed” that malls weren’t included in businesses that could reopen under phase two, but Duffy says it’s for safety purposes.

“High probability of people going in,” he said. “Stores that have outdoor entrance might be approved, we’re working on it, finalize this tonight hopefully. Hair cutting is approved today, but no nails, no waxing yet; that will be coming.”

Duffy did say he supports the idea of outdoor dining, but reiterated sentiments from earlier this week when he said individual towns could not override governor’s executive orders.

“I support outdoor dining and the governor’s team is looking at this,” Duffy said. “I’m on the same page as Reilich. I’ve always heard phase three for this though, not phase two. Anxiety level will go down once we’re all open again. Slowly getting there. every single day; 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. we are working.”

MORE | Town of Greece announces outdoor seating permits available to assist local restaurants

Even as sections of society begin to resume operations, officials say it’s important to remain vigilant to slow the spread of the virus.

“Remember that reopening does not mean that we’re going back to the way things were,” Governor Cuomo said during his daily briefing. “Life is not about going back. Nobody goes back. We go forward. And it’s going to be different. This is about reopening to a new normal — a safer normal. People will be wearing masks and people will be socially distanced — it’s a new way of interacting, which is what we have to do. Wear a mask, get tested and socially distance.”

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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