Paumanok winemaker Kareem Massoud and his father, vineyard cofounder Charles, at their winery in 2013. RiverheadLOCAL file photo

In less than a week, you’ll be able to get that long-overdue haircut, shop for new clothes, shoes and cars, go out to dinner at a local restaurant or sip a glass of local wine at one of the North Fork’s vineyards.

The Long Island region is on track to enter Phase Two of the New York Forward opening plan on June 10, since Phase One reopening has taken place without a resurgence in the coronavirus outbreak.

When the governor gives Long Island the go-ahead to move into Phase Two, restaurants will be allowed to offer outdoor dining — including the service of alcoholic beverages if they hold on-premises consumption licenses.

The region’s craft beverage establishments — wineries, breweries, craft distilleries — will also be reopening for outdoor service in Phase Two.

In fact, all entities that hold on-premises liquor licenses, including bars and taverns — will be able to resume operations with outdoor service in the second phase.

Phase Two reopenings include hair salons and barber shops,
“non-essential” retail stores, auto sales and leasing, real estate sales and leasing and offices.

Requirements apply for reduced occupancy, social distancing, face-coverings and other safety precautions for workers and customers in all industries. The state has published detailed guidance for each industry and requires businesses to complete applications and business safety plans before reopening. See guidelines.

Dine-in restaurants are scheduled to reopen in Phase Three, which, if all goes well, will arrive for the Long Island Region on June 24. But outdoor dining will be a “major shot in the arm,” said Robert Gerety, vice president of the Suffolk County Restaurants and Taverns Association.

“We’ve been pushing for this. We’ve been crippled,” Gerety said.

Being able to offer outdoor dining is “huge” for restaurants that have been limited to takeout and delivery since Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order shut down restaurants and bars in March, Gerety said. The volume of business restaurants have typically seen with takeout and delivery only has not been enough to even remain open, Gerety said. The cost of operating a kitchen alone hasn’t been met by revenues from takeout and delivery service only, Gerety said.

“I can’t even count the number of businesses that have closed permanently,” he added.

“I never thought I’d be ecstatic to say I’d be able to run at 50% occupancy in 50% of my restaurant,” said Jerry DiCecco, owner of Jerry & the Mermaid Restaurant on East Main Street in Riverhead.

“We’re very fortunate,” DiCecco said. “We can do a lot of safely spaced outdoor dining.” DiCecco said he’ s all geared up and ready to go — with hand sanitizer stations, masks, digital thermometers for screening staff and delivery people and QR codes to replace menus. “This has changed almost everything about the way we do business.

“We’re ready to move full steam ahead.” he said.

“I think it’s going to be good for us all,” DiCecco said. “With all the chaos that’s going on in the world right now, being able to go out to dinner is going to mean a lot,” DiCecco said.

Outdoor service is “very important” to the region’s wineries and other craft beverage establishments, said Kareem Massoud, president of Long Island Wine Country, a trade and advocacy organization for the vineyards and wineries of the Long Island wine region, and an owner or Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue.

“A lot of wineries ave been hurting financially and this is a way of generating much needed cash flow,” Massoud said.

Remaining closed until Phase Four — unless the state revises its guidelines: large retail malls where stores open onto indoor common areas, large gathering or event venues, gyms, fitness centers and exercise classes, casinos, movie theaters (except drive-ins), and places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, bowling alleys, zoos, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, theme parks and family and children’s attractions.

Editor’s note: This article has been revised to correct a misstatement in the last paragraph, which originally listed dine-in restaurants as a business reopening in Phase Four. They reopen in Phase Three.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.