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New York City mayor outlines first reopening step, lawmakers push for outdoor dining

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New York City mayor outlines first reopening step, lawmakers push for outdoor dining

By Maria Caspani and Jonathan Allen

 

2020-05-28T193830Z_1_LYNXMPEG4R28A_RTROPTP_4_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-USA-NEW-YORK.JPG

FILE PHOTO: New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio speaks to people as he gives away face masks for using on public spaces to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Queens borough of New York City, U.S., May 16, 2020 REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

 

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday outlined the first steps for reopening the United States' most populous city, envisioning up to 400,000 people heading back to their workplaces, an easing of the lockdown that began in March.

 

De Blasio said he expected the reopening's first phase to be announced by the second week of June and, in line with the state's plan, would include four sectors: construction, manufacturing, wholesale suppliers and non-essential retail.

 

"We're now actually in a position to start talking about opening things up, step by step, phase by phase," he said at a daily briefing.

 

The city's famed restaurants and bars will remain closed, except for takeout and delivery, but the City Council unveiled legislation to allow outdoor dining to help the industry recover from the economic crisis spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Outdoor spaces might be the only lifeline for many small restaurants that have struggled to stay afloat, said Sean Pearson, beverage manager at popular Mexican eatery La Esquina's Soho location.

 

"It might be one of the only ways that they can recoup the revenue that's been lost throughout this whole thing," Pearson said in a phone interview. "I think as long as tables are at an appropriate distance and crowds are managed and maintained and ... the level of cleanliness is upheld, I think it's totally fine."

 

COVID-19 has killed more than 20,000 of New York's over 8 million people, making the city the American epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

With hospitalizations and deaths trending lower across New York state, all regions except the city - which is still working to increase hospital bed capacity and meet other criteria - have begun the process of restarting their economies.

 

The mayor added that authorities would monitor business compliance with reopening guidelines by conducting random visits, and handing out summonses in egregious cases.

 

At a separate briefing, City Council members unveiled legislation to allow restaurants and bars to set up chairs and tables on approved stretches of sidewalks, streets and parking lots while social distancing rules remained in force.

 

Council Speaker Corey Johnson criticized de Blasio for moving more slowly than other cities in repurposing outdoor spaces, and said the legislation was partly intended to force the mayor's hand.

 

"New York will not be New York if we do not have restaurants and bars and an enlivened streetscape," he told a news conference via Zoom. "If Cincinnati can do this, no offense to Cincinnati, New York City can do it."

 

De Blasio said outdoor dining would be considered but that it would not be included in the first of the four phases in the state's plan, which slates restaurants to reopen in the third phase.

 

Before the Memorial Day weekend, the mayor had said the sheriff's office would patrol nine "bar-heavy" parts of the city after some bars, restaurants and their patrons appeared to be flouting guidelines, which include people keeping six feet apart.

 

Restaurants generally struggled to make much of a profit even when they could fill every seat inside, Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, a trade group supporting the City Council legislation, said in an interview.

 

The law would require the city to identify open spaces that can be used for outdoor dining, and New York City's Health Department to create social distancing and cleaning protocols.

 

"We have to remember that New York City is the hospitality capital of the world," Melba Wilson, the owner of Melba's Restaurant in Manhattan's famed Harlem neighborhood, said at the news conference on the legislation. "We cannot be followers on this front; we have to be leaders."

 

(Additional reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Jonathan Oatis and Marguerita Choy)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-05-29
 

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DeBlasio makes Prayut look like a genius. This guy is the worst mayor the City has ever had and it's not even close. 

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Way to go De Blasio. You can do it. Let's do little baby steps, don't be afraid, we will be crawling in no time. These people are really crazy. This virus has been a control freaks wet dream. 

 

Imagine having De Blasio dictate to you when you can go outside, where you go, when to swim, how to stand, where you can walk, etc etc. This whole episode has shown the degree of control these people want over the citizens. Imagine the entire USA was under lock down like this still. 

 

Hope you enjoy your ghost town when the dust settles Mr. Mayor. The funny thing is neighboring states are no longer on board with this level of insanity. They have opened more liberally. So this type of lock down makes no sense at all anymore if it ever did. He will forever be remembered as the Mayor that killed NYC or at least did his best to attempt to.

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Posted (edited)

Did De Blasio ever shut down the subway? I'm not medical expert, but it seem obvious such a transit system is going to greatly accelerate the spread of a virus. I thought it was all about saving lives.

Edited by Crazy Alex
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Does anyone remember the can of fizzy drink called Al Fresco in the UK in the mid 70s?  

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Notice there is no further coverage about the states that opened first? You think they would let it go unreported if it was bad news? Headline should read: NYC continues to be choked off by an incompetent Mayor while people make plans to move to states you can work.

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