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Long Island Outdoor Dining, Retail To Reopen Wednesday

J. Scott Applewhite
An employee cleans and prepares for reopening in Washington, D.C., last month. Long Island will be reopening for outdoor dining, and resuming other business activities, beginning Wednesday.

Long Island enters Phase Two of reopening on Wednesday, with hair salons, car dealerships and real estate offices getting back to work. Local municipalities are balancing the needs of small businesses and the need to keep residents safe from the coronavirus.

County Executive Steve Bellone says each town and village has its own plan to expand outdoor spaces for business.

“This is something we’ve been anticipating and pushing for some time now. I believe there will be some expansion of outdoor space, but those who have outdoor dining, they’re ready to go, they’ve been ready to go. We’re excited that we’re getting to this point.”

Bellone says the county will work with local governments to close street parking or roads to make way for pedestrians.

“We will expedite anything that comes to us, that’s proved on a local level with the health department, and we’ll also work with local communities where there’s an effort to close down on-street parking to expand essentially pedestrian outdoor dining, retail space in a downtown, or to close down a road for a time.”

The town of Huntington has started to simplify some of its zoning regulations and waive some application fees to make it easier for small businesses to reopen. Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci says they will find a way to keep people safe while reopening.

“We’ve been working with small businesses on closing street blocks, where feasible, to enable more open outdoor spaces for local merchants to operate within social distancing guidelines.”

Also new this week: possible in-person high school graduations. The state released updated guidance over the weekend to allow outdoor ceremonies with up to 150 people. Bellone, however, says the large number of graduating students on Long Island makes it a challenge.

“We want to be in a position, if we can, to provide seniors who are not having their proms this year, who missed out on their awards ceremonies, and sports awards and academic awards ceremonies, and haven’t been there on their final months, their final moments in school.”

Bellone says COVID-19 cases on Long Island have continued to decline. He says that the county will work with local health departments to make plans for safe ceremonies. 

Jay Shah is a former Long Island bureau chief at WSHU.
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