New York City entered the final phase of reopening on Monday. But with many activities and institutions still facing restrictions it will be a while until the city is fully up and running.
The limited Phase 4 will see the reopening of botanical gardens and zoos at 33 percent capacity, the return of professional sports, but without fans in the stands, and the increase in capacity for movie and TV production.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said the city was still in a “precarious position” because of the negligence of the federal government. Because of that, Cuomo said the reopening of malls and cultural institutions such as museums would not be part of Phase 4, in an effort to restrict indoor activities.
Gyms, movie theatres and indoor businesses that pose potential health risks are also not included in Phase 4. Cuomo said he will be monitoring the data to determine when those businesses can begin to reopen.
“I am very worried about the spread that we see across the country and the inevitability that the spread will be here. There will be a second wave. I would wager on it, but the question is how high is the wave?” he said.
A big question for many New Yorkers is whether schools will reopen as a later part of Phase 4. On July 31, the Department of Education will present a reopening plan to the governor for his approval, which will include a blended teaching model and the option to remain fully remote.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said a balance had to be met with the city entering Phase 4. “We’ve got time to look at the evidence, watch what’s happening around the country, watch what’s happening here in the city and make further decisions on some of these pieces, and we will do that very carefully.”
He said indoor activities were the real challenge facing a full reopening and the city had “to be really tight about it.”
Indoor dining has been postponed indefinitely and the city has extended the timeline for the Open Streets program, which allows restaurants to use Open Streets for outdoor dining, until October.
To keep on top of virus transmission, the city is starting a test and trace program, where thousands of contact tracers will interview people who test positive for the virus to determine who else needs to be tested and isolated.
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