By Benyamin Davidsons
On Monday June 29th, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he is considering delaying the reopening of indoor dining and retail malls in New York City, due to worries of a resurgence in coronavirus cases. “Malls and indoor dining are things that I’m concerned about and we may consider slowing them down for next week. Not going backwards, but we may actually slow them down,” Gov. Cuomo said during a call-in interview with NY1.
Last week, we entered Phase Two of the reopening, allowing restaurants to offer outdoor seating. Indoor dining at restaurants with 50 percent capacity, and indoor malls are scheduled to reopen in the city this upcoming Monday, July 6. As reported by the NY Post, the governor said he’ll be having discussions with business leaders about possibly requiring the installation of HEPA filters in air conditioning units to help prevent the circulation of COVID-19 indoors. “We’ll have a final decision [on whether restaurants reopen] by Wednesday so people operating those businesses will know what they’re doing,” the governor said.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio also reiterated the governor’s apprehensions about reopening the city’s restaurants. “The New York City story is pretty damn good when it comes to the comeback we’re making from the coronavirus,” de Blasio said at a separate briefing on Monday. “The rest of the nation – I don’t need to tell you – is looking more and more troubling, and that is causing us to think about each step we are taking and to examine what we’re seeing from around the country,” the mayor said.
“My team spoke with the governor’s team yesterday, and we’re increasingly concerned, they are as well,” de Blasio said. “We are now going to reexamine the indoor-dining rules for Phase 3. The rest of Phase 3 is moving on pace for Monday, July 6 – this coming Monday. But the indoor dining element is now in question.”
States like Florida, Texas, Arizona and California have seen an alarming resurgence in Covid-19 cases, making both the mayor and governor wary. Cuomo said he would not want to endanger the progress New York is making. “I would not want to roll back anything we’ve done. I want to continue to move forward, but we may move forward with caution,” he said. On Sunday there were only seven COVID-19-related deaths in NY, down from a peak of 800 deaths. The infection rate for New Yorkers has also dropped to below 1 percent. “We’ve been reopening, and the spread is still gone down with our reopening, because we have a phased in and we have it calibrated,” Cuomo said.
The governor also delicately touched on the protests across the city, which were mostly held without masks or social distancing. “New York City is different. It is more complicated than other parts of the state. Our numbers are good, very good right now, but there are troubling signs,” Cuomo said. “We still have large gatherings which are going on, which are not helpful. We went through the protests, and now we’re seeing continued large gatherings. We’re seeing large social gatherings on sidewalks.” Cuomo also took a stab at the Mayor and the NYPD saying, a “lack of compliance and a lack of enforcement” in social gathering violations were “not helpful”.