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Q & A: What's allowed to open in Phase 4?

The African penguins at the Long Island Aquarium

The African penguins at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead are ready to welcome visitors back in limited numbers. Credit: Randee Daddona

Many tourist attractions, such as museums, historic sites and botanical gardens, welcomed visitors for the first time in 3 1/2 months on Wednesday as Long Island entered Phase 4 of the economy’s reopening.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday that shopping malls — previously on an indefinite delay — can reopen on Friday outside of New York City if they are equipped with ventilation systems that block the virus from circulating.

Also Under Phase 4, film and television production can resume, along with activities on college campuses and professional sports, minus the fans.

However, bowling alleys and gyms are still closed subject to further review by Cuomo and medical experts. Catering halls reopened but only for events with 50 or fewer people, according to a spokeswoman for Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency.

Cuomo shut down all nonessential activity in March to slow the coronavirus’ spread. He began reopening the local economy in late May.

The start of Phase 4 is welcome news to Long Island’s tourism industry, which generates $6.1 billion annually but “has been crippled by the closures related to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Kristen Jarnagin, CEO of Discover Long Island, the region’s tourism promotion agency.

“While Phase 4 does not include many of our large attractions,” she said, “we are hopeful that our efforts to reopen responsibly will allow Long Island to salvage some of our peak summer season and will provide the confidence to reopen our remaining outlets as quickly as possible.”

The state guidelines for Phase 4 are at forward.ny.gov/phase-four-industries.

Here are answers to common questions about resuming business activity.

Outdoor zoos, botanical gardens, nature parks, museum grounds and agritourism

Q: How many people can be outdoors at one time?

Visitors and employees cannot constitute more than 33% of the occupancy rate. They should wear masks and social distance. Employees should avoid sharing objects and wear gloves when doing so.

Q: Are group tours permitted?

Yes, but only if they are members of the same household or party.

Q: Can exhibits that require visitors to touch or wear objects be reopened?

No

Q: Can children’s play areas be used?

Not unless the equipment can be disinfected after each child's use.

Q: How do picnic areas have to be set up?

The tables and benches must be 6 feet apart, otherwise the area should remain closed.

Q: Must hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations be provided for use by visitors and employees?

Yes

Q: Are reusable maps and guides permitted?

Only if they are disinfected after every use.

Q: Are daily temperature checks of employees required?

Yes, and they should complete a questionnaire about their health.

Indoor museums, historic sites and aquariums

Q: How many people can be inside at one time?

The number of visitors and employees cannot constitute more than 25% of the occupancy rate. They must wear masks and social distance.

Q: What type of additional training should employees receive?

Employees should be taught how to put on, take off, clean and discard Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE.

Q: Where should hand sanitizer be placed?

In common areas, including near exhibits.

Q: Can headsets and other equipment for patrons be used?

Only if it's disinfected after each use.

Film and television production

Q; How many cast and crew members can use an indoor space?

Not more than 50% of the occupancy rate. They must social distance and wear masks when not performing.

Q: Can family members and guests visit the set?

No; security guards should be on-site.

Q: How frequently should props, costumes and sets be disinfected?

Between each use and then stored in sealed containers between uses.

Q: Should the cast and crew be tested for the coronavirus?

Yes, if they come into close contact with each other. They should be tested before the production starts and then at least once a week thereafter.

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