Cuomo sparks anger upstate as officials frustrated over lack of clarity regarding reopening orders

ALBANY — Frustrated upstate officials were under the impression certain regions could move on to the second phase of the state’s reopening plan on Friday — until Gov. Cuomo told them to slow down.

In a Thursday afternoon radio interview, the governor said that “international experts” will review coronavirus data before granting the green light.

“The reopening in the first five regions ends tomorrow. When the reopening of phase one ends, we’ll give the experts all the data,” Cuomo said during his appearance on WAMC. “It is posted on the web but let them analyze it. And if they say we should move forward, we’ll move forward.”

Five of the state’s economic regions were approved to start lifting strict COVID-19 restrictions on May 15, with manufacturing and construction being part of the first phase. The state indicated that the next phase, which will see barbers, salons, real estate and retail businesses start up again, would begin two weeks later.

Officials, awaiting an executive order late Thursday that could clear things up, were furious that the state wants more time to go over metrics before moving forward. Many turned to social media to slam the governor.

“I just got off the call with the state where they told us they will be looking at additional data before allowing counties to move into phase 2 of reopening,” Broome County Executive Jason Barnar tweeted Thursday evening.

“This is absolutely frustrating. The people of Broome County did everything they were asked to do. Our local businesses cannot wait any longer.”

Cuomo has indicated over the past two weeks that the time frame of the four-phased reopening could shift based on hospitalizations and other factors.

All non-essential businesses have been shuttered in the state since March 22 in an effort to stem the spread of the deadly virus, which has killed 23,722 New Yorkers.

The pending executive order, which was not posted on the governor’s website as of 10:30 p.m., was also needed to extended the “pause” order keeping businesses in the five boroughs closed.

As of Thursday, the city, which has become the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., was the sole remaining region in the state yet to meet the metrics needed to being the first phase of reopening.

Upstate leaders, meanwhile, said they have been waiting for updated guidance from the state regarding the second phase and don’t know what to tell businesses that are chomping at the bit to reopen.

“I can assure you that not only do I not care what some unnamed and probably non existent ‘international group’ has to say about our data, I don’t even care what Cuomo has to say at this point,” tweeted Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin This is some seriously disturbing behavior being exhibited by this Governor.