New York City, one of the global epicenters of the coronavirus outbreak, is on track to reopen in 10 days.
At a press briefing on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the city would start to ease strict lockdown restrictions on June 8. As part of the first phase of reopening, nonessential construction and manufacturing will be allowed to resume, while retail stores can open for curbside pickup and contactless services. About 400,000 workers, said the governor, are expected to return to their jobs.
Separately, five regions that opened when the statewide shutdown ended on May 15 are set to enter the second phase of reopening. Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and the Mohawk Valley have been cleared to open back up offices, stores and personal service businesses — albeit with guidelines on capacity and social distancing.
In phase two, retailers will have to introduce capacity limits at stores and require face coverings for employees. (Customers might also be asked to wear masks.) Although malls will remain closed, stores at shopping centers with external entrances can reopen.
“Reopening does not mean we’re going back to the way things were,” Cuomo said. “It is reopening to a new normal. It’s a safer normal.”
Since mid-March, much of New York City has been shutdown in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has killed more than 29,500 people in the state. Other parts of the state began to reopen in mid-May after meeting Gov. Cuomo’s seven criteria, which includes a 14-day drop in hospitalizations, 14-day decline in hospital deaths and a rate of new hospitalizations below two per 100,000 residents.
New York City is the only city that has yet to meet such benchmarks: In order to reopen, it must keep unoccupied at least 30% of total hospital beds and have at least 30 contact tracers retained per 100,000 residents. Gov. Cuomo said that the city should be able to meet those criteria by the end of next week.