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WATCH: Gov. Cuomo says several counties north of NYC have met criteria to reopen

Several counties north of New York City entered the first phase of the state’s four-part reopening process Tuesday after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the region had met criteria for reopening including declining deaths and hospitalizations linked to the coronavirus.

The region now easing restrictions includes Westchester County, the area where New York’s first major outbreak of the virus happened in early March.

There have been more than 1,300 deaths so far in Westchester County and nearly 500 in the nearby Rockland County. Both of those suburban counties have had more fatalities per capita than Manhattan, where restrictions are expected to stay in place at least into June.

New York City and Long Island are the only regions in the state that have yet to begin the first phase of reopening, which includes retail with curbside pickup.

Earlier on Tuesday traders cheered as Gov. Andrew Cuomo rang the opening bell of the Stock Exchange, which had been closed since March when the state shut down in the face of the virus. Under rules put in place to prevent a resurgence, traders will be required to wear masks and stay 6 feet apart. Anyone entering the exchange will be asked to avoid public transportation.

“We will respect the sacrifices of frontline workers and the city at large by proceeding cautiously, limiting the strain on the health-care system and the risk to those who work beneath our roof,” NYSE President Stacey Cunningham wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.