Cuomo Opens Malls Friday, Cancels County Fairs

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ALBANY, NY (WSKG) – Governor Andrew Cuomo says shopping malls will be allowed to open in New York beginning July 10th , if they meet certain conditions. At the same time, the governor says any remaining county fairs still planned for this summer are cancelled, citing on going concerns about the coronavirus.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters on July 8, 2020. Gov. Cuomo’s Office

Cuomo says regions that are already in phase four can open shopping malls Friday, if the malls have installed high quality air filters that can help eliminate the virus in the air,  and can make provisions to increase the flow of outdoor air and minimize the re circulation of indoor air.

The governor, who has already cancelled the state fair for 2020, says any remaining county fairs that were planned are also banned for this year.

Cuomo says he has not yet made a decision on school openings in the fall. He says he’s continuing to consult with the state’s education department and the school districts, who have been submitting plans for full or partial re opening, due by July 31. He says a decision will come during the first week of August.

The governor condemned President Donald Trump, who is urging that schools across the country fully reopen in the fall.

“This is getting a little old only,” Cuomo said. “School reopenings are a state decision. Period. That is the law.”

Trump, in a tweet, threatened to cut off federal aid to states whose schools do not fully reopen. The governor says he won’t allow New York to be “bullied” and that won’t influence his decisions.

New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio has said schools in New York City will reopen in a limited manner in the fall, with children attending in person classes just one to three days per week, on a staggered schedule. Parents who do not want their children to be physically present in the schools can opt for full time remote learning.

The governor, who has a history of disagreeing with the mayor, says he  has not yet signed off on that plan.

“The plan will be reviewed, and then we’ll accept or deny the specific plan,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo says the City’s plan will not be finalized by the state until the first week of August, when a decision on all of the schools are made. But he says it’s possible that there could be different reopening guidelines on schools in different regions of the state.

Andy Pallotta, the President of the state’s largest teacher’s union New York State United Teachers,  said in a statement that teachers continue to work with the governor and education officials, including the State Board of Regents,  on a safe reopening plan for schools. The union sided with Cuomo’s plan over Trump’s views.

“The federal government’s demands that schools reopen without concern for health, safety and equity are simply out of touch,” Pallotta said. “Thankfully, here in New York, we know the governor, the Regents and fellow education stakeholders are taking this seriously.”

The teachers union says their requirements for a safe school year include adequate personal protective equipment, strict cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and a plan to maintain safe social distancing of six feet at all times. They also want accommodations to be made for high risk students and staff, and increased mental health resources.

The Chancellor of the State Board of Regents, Betty Rosa, also pushed back against Trump’s comments, saying any decision on the reopening of schools must be based on “the best science, data and guidance available from state and federal health professionals”.

“ To completely disregard what we have learned so far about this virus and require schools to open under the threat of losing funding during a time when state, local and school budgets are already facing extreme shortfalls is reckless and plays politics with our children’s futures,” Rosa said in a statement.