For the first time in more than two months, it will be legal to get a haircut at a beauty salon or barbershop in some parts of Upstate New York. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday he was giving the go-ahead to five regions in that area that have met the health and monitoring metrics detailed in his New York Forward plan for reopening to enter Phase 2 of four phases. 

And New York City is on track to enter Phase 1 on June 8th.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy announced staggered dates in June and July on which daycares, non-contact organized sports, and youth camps can restart.

Both governors stressed caution as they try to balance keeping the public safe with the need to restart the regional economy. But their plans for opening are vastly different in terms of transparency.

Cuomo’s New York Forward plan is far more detailed; it divides the state up into 10 regions, and lays out seven specific health-related benchmarks each must meet to begin reopening.

Those include:

  • Fewer than 15 new COVID-19 related hospitalizations over a 14-day period;
  • Fewer than five deaths in the region over 14 days (a three-day average);
  • Fewer than two new hospitalizations per 100,000 people; and
  • 30 percent of hospital beds available for use, should there be a resurgence of cases.

Under Cuomo’s plan, which also mandates contact tracers to be at the ready to track down COVID-19 cases, once a region has cleared the seven benchmarks, it can move into Phase 1 where non-essential construction, agriculture, forestry, and hunting can resume, and some retail stores can begin curbside pick-up.

New York City is the only region that has not moved into Phase 1. The Finger Lakes and Central New York regions are among the five expected to move to Phase 2—which includes allowing office buildings, retail stores, and salons to operate with 50 percent maximum capacity—this weekend.

In the Garden State, Murphy’s plan is called The Road Back and is less specific. It relies on a combination of “principles” and metrics. They include:

  • A 14-day “appreciable and sustained” drop in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations; 
  • Hospitals no longer operating in crisis mode; and
  • Recruiting people to track the spread of the disease among citizens and document it.

Notably, Murphy’s plan does not look for a decrease in deaths, as New York’s plan does.

Rajiv Sethi, an economist at Barnard College at Columbia University and who has reviewed both plans, said Murphy’s plan makes it hard for businesses to know exactly how close they are to opening.

“New Jersey metrics are based on several principles. One of them is a 14-day 'appreciable and sustained' drop in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and other metrics,” Sethi said. “What does 'appreciable and sustained' mean? It's not entirely clear.”

The details are proving to be critical across the region where businesses are demanding a speedier reopening. In New York, local officials have a clear idea of where the goalpost is, as indicated in a tweet this week by New York City Councilmember Mark Levine:

By contrast, in New Jersey, Murphy has spoken generally about seeing improvement, but has not set specific metrics to move forward. Rather, he announces in executive orders what businesses or venues, like parks, can open.

He also has not divided the state up into regions.

Murphy, a Democrat, has never held public office before his election in 2018 and came under criticism from Republican legislators in Trenton this week for his plan.

In a letter, to Murphy, they said his plan lacked clarity, and that they’re hearing from constituents that “the manner in which reopenings have been announced appears to be arbitrary and inconsistent.”