The city of Ithaca has approved closing down the 100 block of Aurora Street for restaurants to use as extra space for outdoor seating.

As the region transitions into the second phase of reopening, restaurants have the option to open their outdoor dining areas, the Ithaca Voice reports. Shutting down a portion of Aurora street will give more room for pedestrians and will allow restaurants to safely seat a higher number of individuals.

Safety precautions will be put into place for outdoor seating, like spacing tables 6 feet apart, limiting restaurant staff members, and not allowing more than 10 people at one table. The total capacity of restaurants will be cut down to 50%.

In addition to outdoor seating, several restaurants in the Ithaca area are operating through take-out services. The third phase of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “New York Forward” plan will allow restaurants to open completely. 

In Tompkins County the total caseload stands at 165 as of Monday. Over 11,000 people have been tested in total. 

Schools in New York will now be able to conduct in-person graduation ceremonies of no more than 150 people. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that as long as social distancing measures are put in place, schools will be able to hold commencements starting June 26, the Ithaca Voice reports. 

Cuomo said whether or not ceremonies are held will depend on the number of cases, but setting a date will give schools time to make a tentative plan.

Local High Schools have celebrated their graduating classes with socially distant ceremonies.

Watkins Glen celebrated their seniors with celebratory drives around the Watkins Glen International Racetrack, The Odessa File reports. Each student and members of their family were able to ride several laps around the track before receiving their class memorabilia at the finish line.

The Ithaca Journal reports that Ithaca high school provided the 2020 class with commencement this past Tuesday in Stewart Park, complete with solo walks across a stage and a photographer. Ithaca High School Principal Jason Trumble said the solo graduation gave each student their own five minutes of recognition, and each family had their own turn in the front row.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Intern Phoebe Harms