After a 78-day coronavirus-induced lockdown, New York City has reopened to the public — but a number of major retail outposts remain closed.
Department store Macy’s, specialty chain Gap, fast-fashion giant H&M and footwear maker New Balance, as well as Tapestry brands Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman, are among the retailers that have opted to keep their doors shuttered as the COVID-19 health crisis, coupled with ongoing national unrest, continues to hinder their businesses’ ability to return to a new normal.
In mid-March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo enacted the “NY on PAUSE” executive order that led all nonessential businesses, schools and offices to shut down in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed 30,300 people across the state. As part of the first phase of reopening (with four phases in total), New York’s nonessential businesses, which include retail stores, are permitted to conduct business through curbside pickup, while workers in the construction and manufacturing sectors have gone back to work.
However, not all retailers are rushing to open their doors — particularly as looting has erupted across parts of the country, leaving many stores damaged. In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25, there have been scores of peaceful protests in many cities across the U.S. At the same time, some looting and rioting have also taken place.
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Last weekend, NYC’s trendy SoHo neighborhood became one of the major retail hotspots vandalized by looters: Footage from media outlets and social media users in the area showed people smashing the windows of designer boutiques including Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci, as well as department store Bloomingdale’s (a subsidiary of Macy’s) and athletic behemoth Adidas, among other shops. Some people were photographed or captured on video stealing luxury wares, boxes of shoes and other merchandise. A number of retailers had announced that damage as a result of looting has made it unclear when affected outposts would be able to reopen.
Along with New York City’s resumption of nonessential businesses, 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 opened back up offices, stores and personal service businesses — albeit with guidelines on capacity and social distancing.
In phase two, retailers will still 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 that are located within shopping centers but that have their own external entrances can reopen.