Bellone Says Phase 1 Of Reopening Can Happen Wednesday

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on a Zoom call.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that Long Island could reopen by Wednesday is appropriate.

“It’s fitting given we are now into Memorial Day weekend and we see our beaches opening,” he said. “And because the progress is continuing.”

Bellone had said yesterday discussions on reopening had been happening for a while.

“There’s now a timeline set,” he said. “We can begin reopening Wednesday if we continue on this path, which I think we will.”

The news came at the start of Memorial Day weekend, typically the unofficial start of summer.

“This year, however, it really is the unofficial start to reopening our economy, and doing it safely,” Bellone said. “We’re going to be operating in a way that is not normal — we talk about the ‘new normal’ — but we can do it successfully. We can do it in a way that allows economic development to start — the long road to recovery, get people back to work — which is desperately needed.”

He said he thinks Phase 1 of reopening can happen without a spike in cases.

“People know the need for face coverings and social distancing,” he said. “We can get our economy going next week and do it right and do it safe.”

Tracing Will Not Prevent Reopening

Bellone also said the amount of contact tracers will not prevent Suffolk County from reopening. While he did not have specific numbers, he said the county is training hundreds of employees, and expects over 1000 to be trained by the beginning of the week.

“We are training as many people as possible because we may be rotating people in and out on an as-needed basis,” the county executive said. “Hopefully we will see a limited increase in cases, although the number of people testing positive is still over 100 daily. We want to see that number come down.”

Camping Reservation Issues

The county executive said the opening of the camping reservations system did not go well. The site, which was accepting new reservations, went live last night, May 22, at 7 PM, and crashed. The reservations have since been postponed while the county works on updating the website.

“We had an overwhelming response to that,” Bellone said. “It’s the pent-up desire to be out and engage in activities outdoors and have things that people and families can do.”

Reservations will be open again from June 15 forward once the site is back up and running. The reservation window has been extended to 180 days. Camping units must be self-contained, and there is no tent camping. There will also be no walk-up reservations at this time, but reservations can be made 24 hours in advance for the first day of camping.

“We will give people plenty of notice before the site opens again,” Bellone said, “so everyone has a fair opportunity to secure a reservation.”

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