On Wednesday, January 27th Governor Andrew Cuomo officially lifted the yellow zone designation from Ossining as COVID-19 infection rates have been on the decline. The Governor also took similar actions throughout Westchester County in Yonkers, Port Chester, New Rochelle, and Peekskill as well as in Rockland County. Although mask and social distancing requirements still stand, specific restrictions on varying establishments have been loosened.
In an email from the Village of Ossining detailing the newly-updated regulations, the Village stated that houses of worship may serve a maximum of 50 people for outdoor services, but can only hold 33% of the maximum capacity for indoor services. Restrictions for mass gatherings detail a maximum of 50 people for locations other than a private home, and a maximum of 10 people in private residences. Restaurants must require a maximum of 10 people per table and a 50% maximum occupancy for indoor dining, along with outdoor seating spaced in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
Since the lifting of the yellow zone designation from Ossining, weekly testing of 20% of teachers and students is not required to open schools in the district, which was previously mandated according to the Westchester Department of Health. Otherwise, says Ossining Superintendent of schools Dr. Ray Sanchez, “The new regulations do not affect our staff and student body.” When asked if this new development could signal movement toward reopening schools to wider capacities, Sanchez commented, “All the decisions are made at the local level. We are going to follow the regulations from the Department of Health (DOH).”
On their official website, the Town of Ossining reinforces that these new changes in COVID-19 restrictions “[do] not relieve businesses or residents of other COVID-19 related health requirements or restrictions. Masks are required to be worn in all public spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained. Limitations remain in place related to gatherings, indoor dining, and other activities.” Despite extreme caution still surrounding the spread of COVID-19, the lifting of yellow zone designation in Ossining is seen by many as a sign of progress.
Disclaimer: This article is based on information from the Village of Ossining, the Town of Ossining, the Governor of NY’s official website, and the Westchester Department of Health.