N.Y.C.’s Mayor Wants City to ‘Fully Reopen’ on July 1 – The New York Times
New York City aims to fully reopen on July 1 and allow businesses including restaurants, shops and stadiums to operate at full capacity, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday, offering a tantalizing glimpse of normalcy even as his authority to actually lift restrictions on businesses was somewhat limited.
Mr. de Blasio, who made the remarks on MSNBC, said that gyms, hair salons, arenas, some theaters and museums should all expect to be open fully without capacity limits. Broadway, he said, was on track to open in September.
At his news conference later, the mayor added that he wanted the subways, which currently shut down for two hours overnight for cleaning and disinfecting, to run around the clock once more by July.
“We now have the confidence we can pull all these pieces together, and get life back together,” he said. “This is going to be the summer of New York City.”
Most of the restrictions placed on New York City during the pandemic have been set by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the state, and Mr. de Blasio has not had the authority to lift them.
The city and the state have not always agreed on the best path forward, and Mr. de Blasio said Thursday that he had not spoken to Mr. Cuomo about his reopening plan.
Mr. Cuomo emphasized during his own news conference that the state was in charge of managing the reopening and said that he was generally “reluctant to make projections” on a date, saying that doing so would be “irresponsible.”
Still, the governor, who has eased restrictions in recent weeks, said that he was also hopeful that a wider reopening was within sight, possibly sooner than the mayor’s goal. “I think that if we do what we have to do, we can be reopened earlier,” Mr. Cuomo said.
Mr. de Blasio has said that the city expects vaccinations to drive down new coronavirus cases over the next two months. From a second-wave peak of nearly 8,000 cases in a single day in January, New York City was averaging about 2,000 virus cases per day as of last week. Public health officials say that by July, if the city stays on its current trajectory, that number could drop to below 600 cases a day, perhaps lower.
“We laid out a plan, we will back it up with skyrocketing vaccination numbers and declining cases. If someone wants to deny that, let’s have that discussion in public,” said Bill Neidhardt, a spokesman for the mayor. “We feel strongly we’d win that debate.”
The state had already announced several changes this week. The State Legislature on Wednesday suspended an unpopular directive from Mr. Cuomo that required customers to order food when purchasing alcohol at bars and restaurants. And Mr. Cuomo said that a curfew that forced bars and restaurants to close early would end statewide on May 17 for outdoor dining areas and May 31 for indoor dining.
Mr. Cuomo also said that next month the state would raise the capacity limits on offices statewide to 75 percent from 50 percent, and on gyms outside New York City to 50 percent from 33 percent. Last month he raised the maximum capacity for indoor dining at city restaurants to 50 percent, up from 35 percent. Restaurant capacity elsewhere in the state can be at 75 percent.
The mayor’s announcement resonated with the restaurant, bar and hotel industries, though questions remained about how he planned to move forward.
“It’s excellent and very welcome news for New York City, but we need all the details of what fully reopen means,” said Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance.
Mr. Rigie said restaurants and bars would need a timeline of what would come next and which rules, like recording customers’ temperatures, would remain in place. The industry still employs about 140,000 fewer people in New York than before the pandemic, he said.
Even if a reopening is imminent, the hotel industry is years away from returning to normalcy, said Vijay Dandapani, the president of the Hotel Association of New York City. Many international borders remain closed and companies are still holding meetings and conferences over Zoom instead of traveling to hotels.
“It’s a very positive step, but you’ve just about begun to crawl when there’s a long way walking and running,” he said.