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Legislative chairman expects county to begin reopening by Friday

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Legislative Chairman Paul Heider yesterday announced that Cortland County will begin a phased reopening this Friday, starting with businesses qualifying under Phase 1 of Gov. Cuomo’s NY Forward plan.

“Cortland County has partnered with Onondaga, Oswego, Cayuga, and Madison counties to develop a plan to restart business and commerce here in the Central New York region,” Heider said. “The County’s been actively working on this plan for the past few weeks and those efforts have resulted in a plan that provides for a safe and thoughtful process to begin re-opening of businesses both large and small.”

Final approval is still needed by the Governor’s Office in order for the official restart to commence on Friday.

Governor Cuomo and state health officials have established certain metrics that regional economies must meet before implementing a phased re-start.

“I am confident that by this Friday we will have hit these benchmarks,” said Heider.

Hear audio from his speech from yesterday by pressing play below:

One aspect that will be crucial to continue moving forward is testing.

Heider is asking all essential workers to continue getting tested regularly, in order for the region to hit the requirements set forth by the state and not end up back-tracking down the road.

A partnership is in place with Guthrie Cortland Medical Center to meet that objective.

Their drive-thru testing site continues to operate at the corner of West Main Street and Homer Avenue, open every Monday through Friday from 9 am – 5 pm and Saturdays from 8am – 2 pm. (call 607-299-7676 for an appt.)

The loosening of restrictions in New York is being considered on the following criteria:

  • Sufficiently low infection rate
  • Local health care system has the capacity to absorb a potential surge in new cases
  • Diagnostic testing capacity is sufficiently high to detect and isolate new cases
  • Robust contact-tracing capacity is in place to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon has been a lead force behind the regional effort to meet these goals.

He was asked at a press conference held later in the day yesterday about Heider’s early decision to announce that Cortland and CNY would be ready to reopen this weekend. (see that exchange below)

“We still have a couple days to hit our numbers, but he [Heider] knows we’re going to hit our numbers, so he is very confident about saying that,” McMahon said. 

“And you’re just as confident?” asked a reporter in the gallery. “Will the state approve that?”

“They [the state] told me they would. He [Chairman Heider] was on the same call as I was, so maybe that’s why he’s confident,” said McMahon. “He’s a good guy, that Paul Heider.”

The local reopening process in Cortland is also being helped along by the Cortland County Business Development Corporation and the Chamber of Commerce.

“The regional restart continues to build on the established partnerships among our Central New York counties and economic development agencies,” said BDC Executive Director Garry VanGorder. “We will be working closely with Bob Haight and his team at the Chamber to get important information out to the business community as the restart rolls on. There is a lot to absorb and we want to provide them with the best information possible.”

Chamber President Bob Haight said: “The Chamber of Commerce along with the BDC has been assisting all local businesses with information and planning during the pandemic and we’ll continue to work with them during their specific planning for reopening during all phases. We’re pleased to work with all our CNY Community partners to safely get our businesses up and running again.”

Cortland County’s website ( now includes a section that features information about the phased restart.

Each phase will be buffered by a two-week monitoring window, with the potential of pausing the restart if case numbers rise significantly.

The general statewide reopening plan is outlined below:

Phase One


  • Building Equipment Contractors
  • Building Finishing Contractors
  • Foundation, Structure, and Building Exterior Contractors
  • Highway, Street and Bridge Construction
  • Land Subdivision
  • Nonresidential Building Construction
  • Residential Building Construction
  • Utility System Construction


  • Apparel Manufacturing
  • Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing
  • Electric Lighting Equipment Manufacturing
  • Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
  • Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing
  • Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing
  • Machinery Manufacturing
  • Paper Manufacturing
  • Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing
  • Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing
  • Printing and Related Support Activities
  • Textile Mills
  • Textile Product Mills
  • Wood Product Manufacturing
  • Other Miscellaneous Manufacturing

Retail – Delivery and Curbside Pickup

  • Clothing Stores
  • Direct Selling Establishments
  • Electronics and Appliance Stores
  • Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses
  • Furniture and Home Furnishing Stores
  • Florists
  • General Merchandise Stores
  • Health and Personal Care Stores
  • Jewelry, Luggage, and Leather Goods Stores
  • Lawn and Garden Equipment and Supplies Stores
  • Office Supplies, Stationery, and Gift Stores
  • Used Merchandise Stores
  • Shoe Stores
  • Sporting Goods, Hobby, Musical Instrument and Book Stores
  • Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers

Wholesale Trade

  • Apparel, Piece Goods, and Notions Merchant Wholesalers
  • Chemical and Allied Products Merchant Wholesalers
  • Furniture and Home Furnishing Merchant Wholesalers
  • Household Appliances and Electrical and Electronic Goods Merchant Wholesalers
  • Machinery, Equipment, and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers
  • Metal and Mineral (except Petroleum) Merchant Wholesalers
  • Paper and Paper Product Merchant Wholesalers
  • Professional and Commercial Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers
  • Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers
  • Miscellaneous Durable Goods Merchant Wholesalers
  • Miscellaneous Nondurable Goods Merchant Wholesalers

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting

  • Greenhouse, Nursery, and Floriculture Production
  • Other Animal Production
  • Other Crop Production
  • Support Activities for Animal Production
  • Support Activities for Crop Production
  • Support Activities for Forestry

Phase Two (tentative late May/early June)

  • Professional Services
  • Retail
  • Administrative Support
  • Real Estate / Rental & Leasing

Phase Three (tentative mid-June)

  • Restaurants / Food Services

Phase Four (tentative late June early July)

  • Arts / Entertainment / Recreation
  • Education


Each business and industry must have a plan to protect employees and consumers, make the physical workspace safer, and implement processes that lower the risk of infection in the business.

The Chamber and the BDC will work to communicate planning guidance. Each business is responsible for implementing its own plan based upon that guidance or industry best practices.

In developing these plans, businesses will need to consider three main factors.

  1. The first factor is protections for employees and customers. These include possible adjustments to workplace
    hours and shift design as necessary to reduce density in the workplace; enacting social distancing protocols, and restricting non-essential travel for employees.
  2. The second is changes to the physical workspace, including requiring all employees and customers to wear
    masks if in frequent close contact with others and implementing strict cleaning and sanitation standards.
  3. The last factor for businesses to consider is implementing processes that meet our changing public health
    obligations, like screening individuals when they enter the workplace, or reporting confirmed positives to
    customers. While these processes will vary from business to business, almost everyone will have to adapt, in some way or another, to our new normal.

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