Coronavirus

As New York City Reopens, Businesses Balance Public Health and Staying Afloat

Phase 2 of Bill de Blasio's plan lets 300,000 New Yorkers start working again. But not all of them will rush back to the office.

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On Monday, New York City officially entered Phase 2 of its reopening plan, having recorded record-low COVID-19 infection rates in the previous week.

The new phase expands which types of businesses can open their doors. Salons, barbershops, offices, and retail stores are all allowed to reopen with proper precautionary measures, as are playgrounds and places of worship.

The previous phase had been restricted to low-contact industries such as construction, with retail service limited to curbside pickup.

In addition, the city's Open Restaurants plan will allow restaurants to expand from takeout and delivery to limited outdoor dining. Restaurants have particularly suffered from coronavirus-related loss of business: According to the Wall Street Journal, 53 percent of shuttered restaurants on Yelp have permanently gone out of business, compared to 35 percent of closed retail outlets.

The Open Restaurants program would allow restaurants to use sidewalks and curbs, as well as existing patio space, to set up tables and chairs for outdoor dining this week; seating is supposed to expand to open streets on nights and weekends by July. Mayor Bill de Blasio believes the plan could save up to 5,000 businesses and 45,000 jobs.

Phase 2 also allows many more New Yorkers to return to the workspace after three months of remote work or joblessness. De Blasio estimates that 300,000 people could get back to work following this loosening of restrictions.

The reopenings will also benefit New York's public transit system, which has suffered heavy financial losses due to underuse. The MTA expects Phase 2 to increase daily subway ridership to 1 million New Yorkers—a far cry from last year's average of 5.5 million, but a change from just 366,000 at the peak of New York's outbreak.

New York's Phase 2 guidelines are still as arbitrary as one could expect from a state reopening plan. While offices, salons, and retail stores have been permitted to operate at half capacity, churches are restricted to just 25 percent. Playgrounds will finally reopen (with appointed "social distancing ambassadors" at New York's 1,700 parks), but team sports are banned.

In light of unclear city guidelines and lingering uncertainty about the pandemic's path, businesses continue to set their own safety criteria beyond the government's recommendations, permitting many employees to work from home for the foreseeable future.

Early signs suggest that a lot of those workers will stay at home even if the government says they're welcome to commute. One real estate company reported that just 5.2 percent of its employees reported back to its reopened offices on Monday. And a survey by the Partnership for New York City found that across 60 Manhattan-based businesses, just 10 percent of the workforce will return to the office by August.

NEXT: 'Throw a Billion Dollars from the Helicopter' Is a Grand-Slam Attack on Publicly Financed Stadiums

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  1. I eagerly await seeing how quickly “spikes in COVID cases” become old news once it is happening in Cuomo’s turf.

    1. He killed off many of the elderly by sending them back to nursing homes. So, he’s got that going for him.

      1. Yeah, infection rates might go up, but they’re running out of people that the virus could kill, so death rates should remain low.

      2. This graph shows how despite Texas’s reopening, hospitalizations in Austin were largely stable, with only a slight rise. But 12 days after protests in Austin, hospitalizations hockey stick. They will continue to tell us it is the reopening that caused problems right up until there are spikes in New York, when they tell us that Cuomo managed everything perfectly.

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  2. Maybe if politicians, bureaucrats and the media would stop fear-mongering for 5 seconds more people would be willing to go back to being productive members of society.

    1. I know more than a few people who are making more money with unemployment and the $600/wk from the feds than they did at their job. They won’t go back to work willingly.

      1. We’re tossing the money from the helicopters as fast as we can! Maybe we should use air cannons? Or hell, why not drones? Do we have drones that can dump pallets of fresh Benjamins on every poor person whose job we’ve outlawed?

        1. I’m glad I didn’t get laid off. Max unemployment plus the $600 would be just over a grand a week of taxable income. Ouch. And for lots of people that’s more than their paycheck? I’m glad I went to college.

      2. This was part of the plan. $600/wk is $15/hr. They are purposefully trying to force businesses to pay the “Living Wage!!!1!11!one!” to get people to work for them.

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  3. Out here in California we’re laughing at the RED STATES LIKE NEW YORK for sucking Trump’s balls by reopening before mass distribution of 100% effective vaccines occurs. Crazy reactionary Cuomo. Doesn’t he know to lock all of citizens away?

    He should still be like Governor Newsome, who still manages to get regular haircuts even when all barbers have been outlawed.

  4. >>de Blasio’s plan lets 300,000 New Yorkers start working again

    no Jews.

    1. That would just take jobs away from the Italians. If the Jews wanted jobs they should have elected a Jewish mayor!

  5. Covid-19, the internet and working from home helped prove that densely packed cities like Manhattan are unnecessary from an economic standpoint.

  6. Fuck New York. The entire media panicked us into a total lockdown because of how terrible new york was doing and are now praising Cuomo for a job well done after presiding over the worst death rate in the world.

  7. Mayor Bill de Blasio believes the plan could save up to 5,000 businesses and 45,000 jobs.

    A that commie is probably very upset about that.

  8. There are still small businesses left in NYC?
    Even after all the rioting, looting, vandalism, high taxes?
    Oh, wait.
    I got my math wrong.
    It’s only 300 people a day leaving NYC, not 3,000.
    My bad.

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