Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s hopeful that New York can fully reopen earlier than July 1, the date Mayor Bill de Blasio pitched for the city’s lifting of restrictions earlier Thursday, though he said he was reluctant to make projections.
“I think they’re irresponsible,” Cuomo said, reiterating decisions on state pandemic restrictions were his call. “July 1 – you have May, June, what happens in May, what happens in June? I’d like to get the hopeful reopening date before that. I don’t want to wait that long. I think if we do what we have to do we can reopen earlier.”
Asked what a full reopening would look like, the governor was clear: “What does reopening mean? Reopening means, literally, everything back to normal.”
De Blasio made the surprise announcement on his plans to fully reopen the city by early summer ahead of Cuomo’s scheduled briefing. He didn’t specifically address the potential implications of his plan under existing statewide restrictions, and he said he hadn’t spoken to Cuomo about the announcement before he made it.
NYC Plans to Fully Reopen July 1
“I think the best way to proceed here is to set out the city’s vision. We’re going to work with the federal government, we’re going to work with the state government, but it’s quite clear it’s time to set a goal and move on that goal,” the mayor said.
That 100% reopening means full capacity for restaurants and bars, stores, shops and small businesses, hair salons and barbershops, gyms and fitness classes, arenas, stadiums, music halls, museums and theaters, de Blasio said.
He did not specifically detail steps to achieve that goal, nor did he lay out which COVID precautions may stay in place through summer or any other requirements.
“Our plan is to fully reopen New York City on July 1. We are ready for stores to open, for businesses to open, offices, theaters, full strength. We have poured over the science and the data,” the mayor added. “This is going to be the summer of New York City. You’re going to see amazing activities, cultural activities coming back. I think people are going to flock to New York City because they want to live again.”
So too do New Yorkers, Cuomo acknowledged at his COVID briefing later in the day.
“I want to open up New York City Monday. I want to open it Tuesday,” he quipped as he said the data points weren’t quite there for him to make bold projections.
“We’re not done with COVID yet. Yes, we’re making great progress but people are dying every day from COVID. We have to weigh those two facts,” Cuomo said earlier in his briefing. “We’re not home yet. We have to keep up with the precautions. We’re relaxing the precautions as the numbers are getting better, but we’re not home yet,”
What does reopening mean? Reopening means, literally, everything back to normalGOV. ANDREW CUOMO
“We are reopening. We’re calibrating to COVID. We are in the home stretch. The end of the race is ahead of us. Now is no time to slow down.”
Asked if the city planned to include additional COVID requirements — like proof of vaccinations — in its full reopening, de Blasio seemed to leave that to the purview of individual businesses. He has said indoor masking will remain the norm — a statement Cuomo reiterated, and with more clarity around the reopening, Thursday.
“We are reopening and I would say aggressively but it’s phased to the change in the data,” Cuomo said. “It is a mathematical function. There’ll always be some safety precautions in the near term — it’s now a cultural thing for the people.”
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NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has hinted at mask rules possible ending as soon as July, and some epidemiologists believe it could happen even sooner. NBC New York’s Lynda Baquero reports.
Coronavirus precautions have become the cultural norm for businesses, too — not just the required standard. Even as de Blasio said he planned to fully reopen arenas and stadiums, among other businesses, by July 1, the organizations behind some of the largest venues in the city — the biggest money drivers — were skeptical.
Madison Square Garden, which first allowed limited numbers of fans to return to the stands in late February along with Barclays Center as part of Cuomo’s first efforts to bring those venues back, indicated that the situation was still fluid.
Schedules have been shifting since the arts of the pandemic for a host of reasons that involve artists, promoters and tour schedules and it’s difficult to predict an exact time for when the entertainment industry can actually return to normal, whether elected officials set a specific date “full reopening” date or not.
Barclays deferred questions on arena capacities to the state. Broadway hasn’t been expected to return until September at the earliest and reiterated those plans — albeit with a bit more optimism — on Thursday.
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“The Broadway League has been working closely with state and city officials on plans for safely restarting the Broadway industry, welcoming audiences, and bringing our workforce back,” the Broadway League said in a statement. “Today’s remarks by the mayor give us further optimism that Broadway productions can resume this fall, beginning in September, and we look forward to providing more details about reopening in the coming weeks.”
Smaller theaters may start to reopen over the summer, though. Schools will be back to “full strength” come September, de Blasio has said.
The July 1 start would mean events that typically draw huge crowds — like the city’s annual Pride and Puerto Rican Day parades — would have already passed.