Retailers prepare for new normal of shopping
Hundreds of stores across Long Island are preparing to open their doors to in-store shopping next week for the first time since March, taking steps to make shoppers and workers comfortable returning.
Those measures range from providing hand sanitizer throughout stores and installing Plexiglas at checkout counters, to restricting or eliminating dressing rooms and makeup counters. Many retailers will check employees' temperatures, and a few small stores may even check customers' temperatures.
Enticing shoppers back and reviving consumer spending — which accounts for 70% of economic activity — is critical to pull Long Island, as well as the state and the nation, out of the pandemic-induced recession.
The Island is on track to hit Phase 2 on Wednesday, which will allow in-store shopping with restrictions, such as not allowing store occupancy to go beyond 50% of capacity; requiring that employees and customers wear masks; and ensuring 6 feet of distance between people.
Meanwhile, Long Island health systems also turned their attention to the reopening of retail shops. If rules aren't followed vigorously, health care experts warn, it could lead to an acceleration of COVID-19 cases.
Cuomo shows virus progress while calling for social reform
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo touted the state's results in dealing with the pandemic as an example of how government can deal with a crisis such as the one triggered by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Cuomo's comments came as New York City prepared to enter Phase 1 of reopening on Monday and Long Island is set to advance to Phase 2. The Long Island Rail Road said it is resuming nearly full service on Monday as the region gears back into action. So are the city's subways and buses, as well as buses on Long Island.
He said the state had been able to spur action in the public by providing information on the nature of the coronavirus threat and proposing actions that people could take to curtail the spread. As a result, the death toll has fallen from about 800 a day at the peak of the disease eight weeks ago to 42 on Thursday.
"We had the lowest number of deaths from coronavirus that we have had since the start," Cuomo said. "I did nothing. The people of the state radically changed how they behaved."
The numbers as of 3 p.m.: 40,797 confirmed cases in Nassau, 40,239 in Suffolk, 205,940 in New York City and 376,208 statewide.
The chart above shows the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Nassau and Suffolk in recent days. Search a map and view more charts showing the latest local trends in cases, testing, deaths and more.
Experts fear people might stop wearing masks
Health experts say face coverings are key to helping prevent the spread of coronavirus. But they worry the warm weather, along with months of quarantine, is giving some people “mask fatigue” — and that they will stop wearing them.
“Undoubtedly, that will happen to some people, so we need to get most people not to do that,” said Dr. Aaron Glatt, chairman of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital.
Glatt said it’s important for people to realize they don’t have to wear masks when they are outdoors and 6 feet from others, or in their homes.
Making sure customers wear masks is one more challenge for business owners who have struggled to stay afloat in recent months.
“Everybody’s been very cool with the masks,” said Nick DeVito, who owns Charlotte’s, an ice cream parlor in Farmingdale, with his brother John. “We have a sign-up in the window that says you are required to wear a mask, and so far we’ve not had a problem with anybody.”
Wineries and farms prep for reopening
Most Long Island farms have operated and even prospered during the pandemic as the demand for their fresh fruits and vegetables has increased, experts say, but wineries with state-shuttered tasting rooms haven't shared in the prosperity.
The lockout at wineries is set to change next week as Long Island prepares to enter Phase 2 of reopening.
Most Long Island wineries have plenty of outdoor seating and are preparing to open Wednesday with masks for all employees, socially distanced tables, hand sanitizer and strict limits on entering indoor facilities.
"As long as the weather is good, that's good news for us," said Kareem Massoud, president of the Long Island Wine Council and winemaker for the family-owned Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue. Most wineries in the council are also planning to open during the week, Massoud said, including Paumanok's Palmer Vineyard.
Customers are advised to make a reservation before venturing to the winery, where they'll have their temperature taken before entering outdoor seating areas.
More to know
Public swimming pools in Suffolk County's five western towns will remain closed this summer to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, officials said.
States like Florida have required visitors from New York to self-isolate for 14 days, but more Floridians are now testing positive for the coronavirus than New Yorkers.
The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May from 14.7%, and 2.5 million jobs were added — a surprisingly positive reading in the midst of a recession that has paralyzed the economy in the wake of the viral pandemic.
Nearly four in 10 small-business owners on Long Island are worried that consumers won’t visit their establishments out of fear of catching the coronavirus, according to a survey from Hofstra University.
Long Island Cares has seen record-breaking demand at its food pantries, except at one — a pop-up site located on Nicolls Road in Setauket — and organizers want to get out the word that free food is available to people in need.
The Islanders have met all health and safety guidelines and will be able to open their training facility in East Meadow on Monday as part of the NHL’s Phase 2 reopening for small-group workouts without coaches.
News for you
No 5K? No problem. Runners looking for a change of pace and a scenic path to run have plenty of options around Long Island. Here are some running trails you can use that are equipped with water views, wildlife and more.
Dinner and a show. Drive-in movie nights at Long Island restaurants is becoming more popular. Check out the five eateries where you can find them, and what you need to know about pricing, food and getting tickets.
And another drive-in option. The Plaza Cinema and Media Arts Center in Patchogue also joined the pop-up drive-in craze. The shuttered theater will hold four drive-in screenings tonight and tomorrow.
Professional training during a pandemic. Professional athletes from Long Island had to find ways to stay in shape while their sports were paused. Watch how local athletes like minor-league baseball players, a UFC fighter, tennis player and a boxer kept up their training.
Watch it again. Billy Joel may not be playing Madison Square Garden this summer, but fans can watch the more than two-hour concert, “Live at Shea Stadium,” on The Piano Man’s official Facebook page on Saturday.
Plus: Looking for a good book to read this summer? Start with this list of 12 new books you'll want to take to the beach or your backyard.
Moms need kids to be in schools. Kids need to go to school. Yes, they need to be safe. Yes, we can improve education. No, distance learning is not a long-term solution to a better education as suggested by the editorial “Ways to fuel Island’s future,” writes reader Maureen Murphy, of West Islip, in a letter published by Newsday Opinion.
“Reimagining” school every other day or half-days or just on weekends is discriminatory toward women and diminishes American education. Many of us live in the typical Long Island home where both parents work. I guarantee you that working women are not clamoring for school days to be alternated or reestablished in shifts.
Women needing to reenter the workforce after the New York “Pause” and return to our jobs are hindered by the necessity to continue homeschooling and limited day care options. Let’s be clear: Closing schools was necessary, but it made life harder on families, especially moms, and harder on children. Schools provide structure. They provide socialization. They provide meals. They provide role models for children. They provide specialized services for gifted children and children on the spectrum. Most of all, they provide meaningful education. So let’s remember: We need schools, and even more, we need kids to be in schools.