New York City reached a major milestone.. The nation’s largest city, including all five boroughs, entered Phase One reopening Monday. As business restrictions are lifted during Phase One, New York City businesses are able to engage in trade, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing. Local retail shops may serve customers only through curbside or in-store pickup or drop-off.
After months of shutdown due to the coronavirus, New York City met all seven metrics as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prior to entering Phase One. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio told reporters at a press conference that New York City met its final two metrics of low hospitalization rates and reduced rates of positive cases of the Coronavirus. As of Monday June 8, the threshold of hospital admittance to intensive care for Coronavirus patients in New York City was 337 out of a threshold of 375. Only one percent of new cases tested positive, out of a 15 percent threshold.
The week prior to the reopening was challenging for New York City. Nationwide protests over racial injustice filled the city with daily rallys, nighttime looting and violence. Following an increased police presence and curfew, the violence calmed. On Sunday June 7, Mayor de Blasio lifted the mandatory 8 pm curfew in New York City early, shifting the focus to Phase One for the next day.
“Our clear mission is to not just restart, to not just recover, but to renew this city, do something very different, to come back as a city that is fair, a city that is just, a city that sees and hears all its people,” de Blasio said at the reopening media briefing.
Mayor de Blasio said that the nightly violence over the past two weekends was largely curbed with the enacted curfew and businesses. In terms of Phase One and the reopening of retail stores, destruction of shops had “very minimal impact,” according to De Blasio. Small businesses that were looted will be cared for in the form of direct support and grants.
Mayor de Blasio also unveiled two new projects with Phase One. He plans to divert the New York Police Department budget to support social services for the community and create a civilian task force to oversee street vendors, a task originally governed by the NYPD. The task force to support racial justice and inclusivity, chaired by the Mayor’s wife, Chirlane McCray, initiated the idea of defunding the police department to promote a decriminalization approach via granting mental health services and education to citizens instead of policing negative behavior.
Phase One will also experience an influx of construction jobs. The city will construct a total of 20 miles of additional bus lanes to alleviate traffic and air congestion and to decrease commute times. The project will be focused on streets in Queens as well as in the Bronx, which will benefit over 750,000 daily bus commuters. The Metropolitan Transit Authority remains vigilant on sanitizing public transportation nightly while enforcing social distancing and face coverings as it expects an increase in commuters this week.