Outdoor Dining Resumes Thursday in WNY

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) Outdoor dining resumes Thursday in Western New York and six other regions already cleared for phase two reopening. Erie County also got the green light to resume elective surgeries.

Outdoor tables must be spaced six feet apart, all staff must wear face coverings and customers must also wear face coverings when not seated, says Governor Andrew Cuomo. "COVID-19 is still a real threat and we're still battling it. I know it's not on the front pages today, but it is still in people and in society," Governor Cuomo said. "But thanks to the people of New York and the nurses, doctors and essential workers, today we have the lowest number of hospitalizations ever and we have the lowest death toll ever. We are continuously evaluating activities that can be safely reopened, and today we are adding outdoor seating at restaurants to phase two."

"Thanks to the efforts of New Yorkers, we are beating this virus and reopening the economy in a safe and responsible way," says Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. "I've been listening to restaurant owners and brought their ideas to state health officials, which is why I'm particularly pleased that the Governor has permitted restaurants to host outdoor dining as part of Phase 2. Upstate New Yorkers can now help their local restaurants get back on their feet as they begin to reopen. I look forward to dining outside soon. At the same time, remember that this virus is still in our communities. We can't afford to lose our momentum, which is why it's important to continue wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer and practice social distancing."

Governor Cuomo also announced that Erie County is now eligible to resume elective surgeries and ambulatory care. The Governor previously announced that the state will allow elective outpatient treatments to resume in counties and hospitals without significant risk of COVID-19 surge in the near term. Catholic Health and Kaleida previously received waivers to resume elective surgeries.

Cuomo announced earlier that 49 additional coronavirus-related deaths were reported statewide Tuesday, a small fraction of the 700-plus daily deaths the state was recording during the height of the virus outbreak in April.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City buses and subways will look different when the city begins reopening next week, with hand sanitizer in stations and social distancing markers in place.

“I want to see that everywhere you go, whether it is in a subway station, on the platform or on the train or on a bus, there are markings telling you exactly where to be,” de Blasio said at his daily briefing Wednesday.

Ridership on subways and buses is expected to increase when the city enters the first phase of the reopening process Monday, and transit officials say they are taking steps to prevent a flareup of the virus.

Officials with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said in a letter to de Blasio's administration Tuesday that they’re asking employers to stagger shifts and continue to allow for remote work.

The closure of the subway system between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. for disinfecting will continue when the reopening starts.