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WATCH: New York City eyes June 8 for first phase of reopening

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York City is on track to begin reopening June 8 as the state gradually loosens restrictions put in place during the coronavirus crisis, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

Cuomo said the city was meeting goals set for hospital rates and testing, will “stockpile” personal protective equipment and will focus on infection rates in hotspots by ZIP code.

Watch the governor’s remarks in the player above.

“We believe all of these things can be done next week,” the Democratic governor said at his daily briefing. The state saw 67 new deaths, a number he called the “lowest ever.”

Also Friday, Cuomo cleared a large swath of upstate New York to reopen hair salons, retail shops and offices under strict guidelines.

Cuomo said virology experts had reviewed infection and hospitalization data and cleared the North Country, Finger Lakes, central New York, Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier to enter the second phase of reopening.

Barbers and hair stylists will need to get tested every two weeks and retail stores must close shared amenities including self-serve sampling stations and bars, under Friday’s guidance. Store owners can prohibit customers without masks.

The announcements followed a day of confusion that had businesses in several regions making plans to welcome customers Friday — only to be told late Thursday they could not.

County leaders learned on a 7 p.m. call with state officials that public health experts hired by the state would have to sign off on the next phase of reopening, but it was unclear when that would happen, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said.

While some businesses delayed their reopening plans, others opened as planned, Picente said by phone Friday, adding he told them he would not move to stop them.

READ MORE: 41 million have lost jobs since virus hit, but layoffs slow

“These are businesses that have spent a great deal of money in preparing for a reopening, and then to tell them at the 11th hour … that different criteria was being looked at or that some other experts were going to look at data — we didn’t know any of that,” the Republican county executive said.

Annette Knapp, owner of Salon Bellezza in Syracuse, had lined up eight clients for Friday, the first at 9:15 a.m., but cancelled them while awaiting clarification, afraid of putting her operators’ license at risk.

“It’s like you’re having a baby. You get to the due date, you want to have that baby,” she said. “Any day after is frustrating.”

As New York tries to get its economy going again, Cuomo has divided the state into 10 regions that can start to reopen businesses in phases.

All of the state except for New York City is now at a phase that allows manufacturers to bring employees back to work and lets retailers operate with only curbside pickup.

The governor’s executive orders leave it up to his administration to decide when a region has met the state’s standards for lifting restrictions. The rules guiding exactly when counties can move from one reopening phase to another have been less clear, though the state set the minimum amount of time between phases at two weeks, saying that gap was needed to let officials monitor infection rates.

Last week, Cuomo announced the hiring of two experts to analyze the data and consult on reopening decisions.
Other coronavirus developments on Friday:

Thompson reported from Buffalo. Associated Press writer Karen Matthews in New York City contributed.

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