Shopping malls, which were originally supposed to be part of Phase 4 of the reopening process but put on hold due to air quality concerns, are being given the green light by the governor - with a caveat.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that malls outside New York City can move ahead with reopening this Friday, as long as they have installed air filtration systems that can remove coronavirus particles from the air.
This applies to all areas of the state that are in Phase 4, which basically means Long Island and all of upstate. New York City is still in Phase 3, and indoor dining has been prohibited in the five boroughs as well.
These filtration systems must have a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, rating of 11, Cuomo said. MERV is rated on a scale of 1 to 16, with the highest possible level of filtration being a 16.
The Times Union reports that some Capital Region malls, in anticipation of this order - something the governor hasn't exactly made a secret about, given the spiking COVID rates occurring elsewhere in the nation - are already moving forward with filtration system installation.
The owners of stores inside malls have been speaking out for weeks about their concerns that the big box anchors at their respective locations have been allowed to reopen, while smaller businesses were not.
The governor has not yet announced plans for other entities that were supposed to be included in Phase 4, such as gyms, commercial casinos and amusement parks.
He did, however, announce a schedule for determining when and if schools will be reopening in the fall. Districts are being asked to submit their reopening plans to the state Education Department by July 31 and the state will be making a decision on those plans during the first week of August.