As other parts of the U.S. hastily roll back reopening plans, New York City is taking one more small step forward.
On Monday, the city officially kicks off Phase Three, paving the way for legions of beauty businesses – nail salons, tanning studios and tattoo parlors – to open their doors to customers for the first time in months.
Yet perhaps the biggest and most widely anticipated change – the resumption of indoor dining – has been postponed indefinitely. Blame the recent covid-19 spikes in states such as Texas and Florida after they reopened bars and restaurants.
Both New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have repeatedly urged New Yorkers to remain vigilant and not let their guard down. Coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped 50,000 in a single day for the first time this past week, even as infections in New York reach new lows.
“It’s been a long battle, and it continues to be,” de Blasio said.
Here’s what you need to know:
Q: What does ‘Phase Three’ reopening mean?
A: It’s the third of a four-step process that will ease restrictions gradually on business activity and people’s ability to move around and socialize in the state of New York. Progress depends on infection rates, hospital capacity and the state’s ability to test and trace people who may have contracted the virus. Regardless, each phase will last at least two weeks.
New York City entered ‘Phase Two’ on June 22 – the last region to do so. Several other regions are already in the fourth phase.
Q: What’s still closed?
A: The mayor and governor said indoor dining in the city won’t resume for the time being, citing the resurgence of cases in parts of the country that have taken a more cavalier approach. Gyms, schools, movie theaters and other large venues for culture and entertainment still are shut, and some won’t reopen even after the city enters the fourth phase. The Broadway League, a trade association for the theater industry in New York and beyond, said the city’s theaters will remain closed through the end of the year.
Q: It’s getting hot out! Are the beaches open yet?
A: Yes, the city’s public beaches opened for swimming on July 1. And as of Friday, the S train, a subway shuttle that runs on the Rockaway Peninsula, began picking up riders at Rockaway Boulevard in Queens between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. That special service lasts through Labor Day.
Fifteen of the city’s outdoor pools – four in Manhattan, two in Staten Island and three in each of the other boroughs – will open in coming weeks.
Q: Can my dog finally get some exercise?
A: Yes and so can you. The city will reopen dog runs – meaning your four-legged friends can finally work off some of their pent-up energy. The city will also open courts for basketball, tennis and other sports. However, you should still try to practice social distancing, and the city encourages residents to wear masks while using these facilities. So expect to play on your own for a while.
The state’s reopening is conditioned on seven different measurements ranging from infection rates to hospital capacity and testing and tracing. As long as those remain below certain thresholds, the process can continue. City and state officials haven’t publicly said whether they would roll back parts of the reopening if a resurgence of cases pushes a region above those limits.
Q: With indoor dining postponed, is outdoor dining at risk?
A: For now, there’s no reason to worry. “Outdoor dining, unquestionably, has been a great hit,” de Blasio said July 1, adding that it “is working, period.” Around 6,600 venues so far have taken advantage of the city’s initiative to expand outdoor-seating options, and the city is working to involve more restaurants in that effort, he said. The city also plans to close more streets to traffic on evenings and weekends to give restaurants more space for dining al fresco.
Q: And just to be sure – social-distancing requirements are still in place, right?
A: You already know the answer to this question. Wear a face covering, keep people at a 6-foot distance and wash your hands. At outdoor restaurants, you’re allowed to take off your mask once seated.
(c) 2020, Bloomberg · Anders Melin, Jennifer Surane