Home featured De Blasio Says NYC Will Enter Phase 2 of Reopening on Monday

De Blasio Says NYC Will Enter Phase 2 of Reopening on Monday

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New York City, once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, will enter its next phase of reopening on Monday, with as many as 300,000 workers expected to get back to work as outdoor dining, in-store shopping and office work resumes, Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed on Thursday.

The move, which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Wednesday could go forward, will put the city one step further on its path to economic recovery from a devastating virus that killed more than 21,000 residents and triggered one of the strictest shutdowns in the United States.

“I’m very comfortable now saying that we will start Phase 2 on Monday,’’ Mr. de Blasio told reporters at his daily briefing.

Mr. de Blasio’s announcement comes as other states are seeing spikes in new infections. On Tuesday, Florida, Texas and Arizona, all of which moved swiftly to begin reopening, each reported their largest one-day increases in new cases.

Under New York’s plan, outdoor dining, some in-store shopping, hair salons, barbershops, and some offices in the city would be allowed to reopen in the second phase, with social distancing and restrictions on capacity. Playgrounds will also reopen during Phase 2, Mr. de Blasio said.

Restaurant owners, who have seen business plummet during the pandemic, have been particularly worried that regulations requiring them to limit capacity and put distance between their tables would make it hard for them to make ends meet.

Many restaurants and bars in New York City, especially in Manhattan, do not have available outdoor space, and owners have pressed lawmakers to expand their ability to serve customers outdoors as the city reopened.

As the city first began easing restrictions earlier this month, a kind of informal outdoor dining emerged, with large groups eating and drinking on streets outside businesses that were open for takeout.

On Thursday, Mr. de Blasio said that restaurants in the city would be able to place seating on curbs and sidewalks adjacent to their restaurants, even if the establishment had never provided outdoor seating before.

He also announced that beginning in July, the city would allow restaurant seating on the 43 miles of streets that it had closed as part of its Open Streets program. Under the program, roads were closed to vehicle traffic in an effort to provide more outdoor space to residents and prevent crowding at city parks.

“Outdoor dining is the way forward,” Mr. de Blasio said.

The mayor predicted that the expansion of outdoor dining could prevent 5,000 of the city’s restaurants from closing and avoid the loss of 45,000 jobs.

New York has shown a steep decline in new cases since the virus peaked in April, when there were more than 10,000 new cases reported on several days. On Wednesday, the state reported another 567 cases.

Mr. Cuomo has repeatedly emphasized the need for caution as the state eased restrictions, pointing to issues in other states and urging New Yorkers to continue social distancing and wearing masks in order to prevent a second wave of infections.

“You don’t stay smart, it will come back,” he said on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, Mr. Cuomo threatened to reinstate closures in the city after a number of photos and videos spread online of people flouting social-distancing rules and congregating outside Manhattan bars.

Both he and Mr. de Blasio also left open the possibility that the city would delay reopening if test results in the coming days showed a new spike in cases.

Mr. de Blasio had generally sounded more cautious in recent days about whether the city would be ready to ease more restrictions by next week, declining several times earlier this week to put a specific date on it.

ImageAs many as 300,000 workers are expected to return to their jobs next week. 
Credit…September Dawn Bottoms/The New York Times

On Thursday, he again repeated concerns that the virus might have spread as massive protests over systemic racism and police brutality recently filled city streets. (Mr. de Blasio, who attended at least one such demonstration, fell ill on Monday, but tested negative for the virus, he said.)

Still, Mr. de Blasio said that city and state officials had been encouraged by “the trend line” of test results and hospitalizations, which have stayed flat in recent weeks, and decided to allow the reopening to go forward.

New York City was the last region of the state to begin the reopening process, on June 8. Its suburbs entered Phase 2 this week, and the rest of the state has already moved on to Phase 3, which allows indoor dining at restaurants and personal-care services.

Dagny Salas contributed reporting.

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