NYC enters phase three of reopening

New York City, once the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, has entered phase three of reopening, but without resuming indoor dining.

Personal care services, such as nail salons and massage parlours, were allowed to reopen on Monday after nearly four months of closure, reports Xinhua news agency.

Indoor dining, which was supposed to resume in phase three in accordance with New York state’s plan, was postponed indefinitely in the city as many other states have witnessed a recent surge in COVID-19 cases related to restaurants and bars.

The city has launched an outdoor dining initiative to boost the business of restaurants.

Over 20 Open Streets now have Open Restaurants on them, providing dining services on every Friday and weekend throughout the summer.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday that major indicators kept showing signs of progress.

Daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19 fell to 62 on Sunday, as positivity rate in citywide testing dropped to 1 per cent, the lowest level since the crisis began.

He said more and more New Yorkers were taking subways and buses.

During the two-week phase between June 17 and July 1, subway ridership was up 18 per cent to surpass 1.1 million riders a day. Meanwhile, bus ridership was up 12 per cent, reaching almost 1.1 million riders.

“Mass transit usage is going up substantially faster than car traffic, and that’s in many ways a good thing and a good sign that people are feeling more and more comfortable and ready to engage,” said the mayor.

But he still warned people to keep wearing face coverings and social distancing.

“Remembering how important it is to each other, to your family, to yourself, to stay safe,” he said.

By Monday, the city reported 214,061 COVID-19 cases and 23,201 deaths.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at his briefing on Monday that casinos and movie theatres will remain closed as the state government continues to review the facts to ensure their safe reopening.

He also said the New York State Department of Health, in consultation with other groups, is finalizing guidance on the possible reopening of schools in September.

Earlier this week, de Blasio had confirmed that the city’s public schools would be open in the fall with safety precautions.

A New York City Department of Education survey released last week found that 75 per cent of parents wanted their children to return to school in September.