Originally set for Friday, Phase 2 will begin Saturday ... maybe

Phase 2 delayed
Phase 2 delayed(MGN)
Updated: May. 29, 2020 at 4:53 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Many area businesses ended Thursday thinking they could open in the morning.

It now appears as if phase two of reopening the north country’s economy will start Saturday instead of Friday.

Jefferson County Legislature chair Scott Gray tells 7 News that he was negotiating with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office well into Thursday night.

Earlier Thursday Gray said he was told that phase two would be “paused,” even though regions were told earlier this week that transitioning to phase two would be a natural progression.

Several regions, including the north country, were set to begin phase two Friday.

Gray had been told that state officials were concerned about data they were seeing in some regions’ reporting of hospitalizations, infection rates, and other metrics.

"They did not give us any further detail in terms of what they're seeing, or what the concern is,” Gray told 7 News Thursday night.

He was also told that no region could progress from one phase to the next without the governor’s say-so, even though regions had been told they could go ahead in two-week intervals if their metrics met state standards.

Gray was also told at one point that those metrics might be changing.

In an email late Thursday, Gray said some of the wrinkles may have been ironed out following a late-night phone call with state officials.

“I think we have worked out some of the issues now that cooler heads are prevailing and are back on track,” he said. “Having been scorched by the process I’m hesitant to promise anything, but you may see the opening Saturday.”

Gray tells 7 News that the North Country “control room” will meet late this morning. It’s expected that more details will be available after the meeting.

The control room is made up of people representing the seven northern New York counties that the state considers its North Country region for economic development.

Phase two would allow retail businesses to let people in their stores again and real estate agents would have expanded freedom to show properties. Some professional services like barbershops and beauty salons could reopen – although there could be some restrictions – as could some government functions like the Department of Motor Vehicles.

See our story from late Thursday.

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