Gov. Cuomo May Slow NYC Reopening in Phase III

NEW YORK -
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that he is considering adjusting the Phase III reopening date for New York City, set to go on July 6.

The announcement follows steep rises of coronavirus cases in much of the nation and worldwide, with a death toll that passed 500,000 in the last few days.

Cuomo said he may tweak the Phase III reopening process for NYC as it relates to indoor restaurants, while his New Jersey counterpart Phil Murphy said with the virus surge across the U.S., he was postponing that step indefinitely. New York and New Jersey are the two hardest-hit COVID states in America.

Both governors cited evidence of heightened risk in enclosed spaces, and the typical overcrowding and social distancing violations in many restaurants in their states as reasons to reassess Phase III.

“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,” Cuomo told NY1. “We have complications that we are studying now, but there are issues we have to think through. Malls and indoor dining are things that I’m concerned about and we may consider slowing them down for next week.”

New York City had been scheduled to start limited indoor dining next Monday when it enters Phase III. That may not happen, although the five boroughs will still move to that stage next week.

In addition to indoor dining, Phase III reopens personal care services, and more outdoor recreation establishments.

Restaurants have reopened in every other New York region. It wasn’t clear if Cuomo would change other regional reopening to accommodate any potential changes to state guidelines.

As for shopping malls, Cuomo said that before they can reopen, they’ll have to install certain air systems that filter the virus out rather than recirculate it.

“Confidence in our restart is higher across the Northeast than it is in any other part of the country. That’s because we’re taking responsible and measured steps while following the science and data,” Murphy said. “We still have nearly 1,000 people with COVID-19 in our hospitals. Our sister states are now battling for their lives. Do not think for one moment that this is behind us.”