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North Shore moves forward with Phase Four of reopening

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Long Island was set to begin Phase Four reopening of the economy on July 8, including universities and colleges.

The governor said all 700 public school districts have been directed to develop reopening plans, but he is taking a wait-and-see approach whether students will head back to their school buildings in September.

In addition to higher education, industries that will be able to open Wednesday include:

Film and music production.

Low-risk indoor arts and entertainment.

Low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment.

Professional sports without fans.

Low-risk indoor entertainment includes museums, historical sites and aquariums. Examples of low-risk outdoor entertainment are zoos, botanical gardens and nature parks.

Adam Mandell, co-owner of indoor tennis facility Glen Head Racquet Club, said management and employees have been following Center for Disease Control and Prevention protocols as well as United States Tennis Association guidelines while reopening.

Mandell said the club’s main focus is to prevent as many people from being close to one another as possible. He said there is no congregating in the lobby, and that all children participating in the club’s tennis camps must be dropped off and picked up by their parents outside. He said the club’s side doors are being heavily utilized as they go directly to the courts, there are only a handful of people allowed on one court at a time and only tennis pros are able to touch the balls with their hands.

The facility’s closure has been very difficult, Mandell said. He said many clients were in the middle of their training season when it closed, although he said he is grateful for clients’ willingness to work with them on the solutions which have been put in place. He said being able to reopen is a relief.

“Our clients have been super appreciative of how seriously we’re taking this,” Mandell said. “Even if around the country people want to feel more relaxed about it, we don’t feel relaxed about it. We fully respect the situations and are going to continue to ensure that on a daily basis we’re as safe as we can be so people feel comfortable coming into our facility and that they’re safe.”

James Versocki, commissioner of the Sea Cliff Baseball & North Shore Softball League, said the league’s senior division, consisting of 11 through 13-year-olds, will possibly start playing games with other local municipalities by the week of June 20. He said the league is following CDC, state Department of Health and International Little League guidelines as it opens up.

In doing so, Versocki said there will be some changes in regulations. Each child is allowed two spectators each, all of whom must watch from beyond the outfield. Umpires will stand behind the pitcher’s mound instead of home plate and all players must be at least six feet apart aside from the catcher and batter, as well as base runners and fielders at a base. Even in these situations, he said players faces are rarely within a few feet of one another.

Versocki said he is glad to be opening up thanks to baseball and softball being deemed a “moderate risk” sport by the state. Nonetheless, he said safety is the league’s top priority.

“The whole situation is unnerving,” Versocki said. “Watching your kids play sports is probably one of the greatest things you can enjoy and you don’t want to deny them that, but you have to make sure it’s safe.”

“You miss it,” he added. “A lot of the coaches and the committee give a lot of time because it’s more than just about baseball and softball, it’s about community.”

Michelle Capobianco owns watercraft rental store Shore Thing Rentals in Glen Cove, and she said she has been able to provide kayaks, canoes and standup paddleboards and the accompanying equipment to customers by appointment since May 15. However, with Phase Four under way, she said walk-in customers can be served now as well.

Capobianco said social distancing is easy considering most of her work can be done outdoors. She also said she has been sanitizing every piece of equipment between uses. This, she said, has helped her feel more relaxed now that she can serve the community in a more normal way.

“I felt like it was really needed,” Capobianco said. “People are so happy to be out here and out on the water and to do something normal. I love my job, and this year it’s especially gratifying.”

The governor praised New Yorkers for their vigilance and resilience throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. He said, though, that he worried people might become apathetic and arrogant, believing they had beaten the virus.

He noted that the infection rate remains just below 1 percent statewide — down from nearly 17 percent on Long Island and more than 20 percent in New York City at the height of the pandemic in April.

More than 54,000 New Yorkers were tested for the coronavirus on July 5, and 518 of them were positive for the disease.

“The numbers have actually declined since we started reopening” eight weeks ago, Cuomo said.

He also said there were fewer than 10 deaths statewide overnight from July 5 to 6. But he said, the virus is still out there, so people must continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing in public spaces, according to state law. He implored local police departments to enforce the law.