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New York City is expected to open June 8, Cuomo says

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said on Friday that New York City, one of the global coronavirus pandemic centers, would open again on June 8, the first step in ending one of the nation’s toughest lockdowns.

Since the end of March, the city has been completely paralyzed under the devastating importance of the outbreak.

Non-essential businesses were closed and restaurants were open only for pick-up and delivery. Nearly 900,000 jobs disappeared almost overnight, overnight 20,000 people died and more than 200,000 were infected when ambulances rushed through empty streets.

In mid-May, other parts of the state began to open again after meeting seven public health benchmarks set by the governor.

But Mr. Cuomo said on Friday that he expected the city to meet the benchmarks by June 8. In Phase 1 of the reopening, retailers can open for pickup at the port or in-store and non-essential designs and manufacturing can be resumed.

“I’m proud of how New York calculates it,” Cuomo said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who appeared through video at Mr. Cuomo’s daily briefing, said: “We are now on our way to the next big step.”

The mayor and governor warned that New Yorkers needed to continue to take precautions to keep the virus in check. More than 5,000 people in New York tested positive for the virus last week – a steep decline from the beginning of April, when 40,000 people a week tested positive, but still a significant number.

“Remember that reopening doesn’t mean we go back to what was,” Cuomo said. “It opens again to a new normal. It is a safer normal. People will wear masks. People will be socially distant. “

Cuomo also said on Friday that five upstate areas had been cleared to enter Phase 2 of the reopening, where offices, stores and companies with personalized service such as barber shops can be reopened, with restrictions.

The five regions – Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley – cover most of the state outside New York City and its suburbs, the Albany area, the Buffalo area and Long Island.

This raised a big question: How will they work?

During the pandemic, New Yorkers have come to regard their city’s mass transportation system as a giant rolling petri dish.

The ridership has dropped more than 90 percent, largely because only necessary workers are supposed to take it now. But it is also because many people are afraid of getting the corona virus on the transit system, even if subways and buses are disinfected every day.

Mr de Blasio said this week that he understood that many would feel uncomfortable returning to mass transit and that some would walk or cycle, while others would drive or take a cab. But he offered some additional guidance.

“I really want to push back the idea that we can solve everything all the time,” de Blasio said on Friday. “There is not always the chance to help everyone at all times with regard to their transportation needs. People will need to improvise, and I think they will.”

He said he was waiting for answers from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the state agency that operates buses and subways, on how to maintain public health in the system.

Sarah Feinberg, interim president of M.T.A. Transit, responded quickly to the mayor on Twitter.

“We have no idea what the mayor is talking about,” she wrote. “M.T.A. has informed City Hall several times about the reopening, including another productive meeting held just yesterday. If the mayor has questions, he can pick up the phone and call us at any time. “

Governor Cuomo said on Friday that the system could accommodate safely. “We would not use it unless it is safe,” he said. But he added that riders needed to take it upon themselves to avoid crowded trains or buses.

“I won’t open the city unless I’m comfortable, and when I open the city, I’ll ride the subway,” Cuomo said in an interview on NY1 Friday afternoon.

M.T.A.’s President, Patrick J. Foye, objected vigorously to C.D.C.’s recommendation on Friday afternoon.

“Our transit and bus system is cleaner and safer than it has been in history,” he said in a statement. “We will continue to take every possible measure to protect public health and safety, and the federal government that tells people not to go mass transit puts us back decades.”

On Friday, Foye also sent a letter to business executives asking them to reduce working hours, allow flexible start times and extend telecommunications plans as part of the agency’s efforts to reduce congestion when the city opens again.

New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy announced that in the coming weeks, the state would allow childcare services to open fully and some summer programs for children to begin functioning.

During his daily briefing on Friday, the governor said he would sign an executive order allowing child care services to open to anyone on June 15 – they have been open to children by key workers.

“As more and more workers prepare to get back to their jobs, we need to ensure a continuum of care for their children,” Murphy said.

Outdoor sports, without contact, can begin June 22, and youth day camps, including the city’s summer program, can open July 6.

The governor said he believed the state could reduce the restrictions on gatherings by June 12 “in a way that allows for greater religious interior services.” He did not provide details but said his administration would work with religious leaders to establish “appropriate safeguards” for services.

Other updates from Mr. Murphy’s orientation:

  • The state creates a $ 100 million relief program to help low and middle-income families pay rents. Very low-income families and people at risk of homelessness can receive up to 12 months of rental assistance.

  • The governor announced 131 new deaths from the virus, bringing the state’s death toll to 11,531. He reported 183 new virus-related hospital admissions, which he called a “meaningful reduction” from the previous day’s report of 365.

Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut announced Friday that the state would begin allowing gatherings of up to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, easing the restrictions that had previously banned gatherings greater than five people.

Flanked by religious leaders at its daily briefing on Friday, Lamont also said that god houses would be allowed to hold indoor meetings with 25 percent capacity or up to 100 people, whichever is fewer; Outdoor services can include up to 150 people as long as social distance is observed, he said.

Lamont has opposed opening casinos right now and has been in talks with the senior management about the issue for weeks. He said on Friday that casino operators had agreed not to allow outstanding residents to stay in their hotels from the start, to require facial coatings for visitors and to only allow outdoor dining.

Many tax experts and government officials, including the government of Andrew M. Cuomo, are sensitive to allowing the city to take on significant debts, sensitive to the history of careless loans that led the city to the brink of bankruptcy in 1975.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has asked legislative leaders to authorize him to issue bonds to cover operating costs, saying he would only do so as a “last resort.”

However, doing so has become a real possibility: legislative leaders discuss the issue with the governor’s office and city officials.

Cuomo said on Thursday it was financially questionable to issue bonds to pay for operating costs.

“We do not want to create a situation where the state or any local government borrows so much money that they cannot repay them, and then you have to start reducing the service and now you are in the downward spiral,” he said. “New York City has been there before.”

City Supervisor Scott M. Stringer said if the city borrowed $ 7 billion to cover spending, it could have more than $ 500 million a year in debt payments over the next 20 years.

But the mayor said on Wednesday that he could not make further budget cuts without leading the city to a “horrible place where we would cut down on basic services, reduce staff, birds, layoffs, things we didn’t want to see.”

Only 5 percent of people in New York tested for coronavirus were positive, the lowest daily figure the city has yet recorded, Mayor de Blasio said on Friday.

A low positive rate is an indicator that the virus is spreading more slowly. At the height of the outbreak in early April, more than 70 percent of those tested in the city were positive, Mr. de Blasio.

“What a good sign this is,” said the mayor.

Other news from Mr. de Blasio’s morning briefing:

  • The city will provide two million free face coatings to businesses and workers as part of the plan to help over 200,000 people return to work when the city meets state criteria to start re-opening.

  • The city will provide 10,000 tablets with built-in internet for the elderly in public housing. The computers will let isolated New Yorkers see their doctors through telemedicine meetings.

The Times regularly profiles important workers in the New York region during the pandemic.

Where do you live? Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan

Where do you work? N.Y.U. Langone Hospital.

Anesthesiologists are critical in hospitals treating Covid-19 patients. Why? We have the unique set of skills to know how to intubate patients suffering from difficult or compromised airways.

What has been the most difficult part of your job since the pandemic began? The amount of deaths we saw every day, we were not prepared for it. These numbers, it’s something you see on the battlefield. We are not prepared for them in hospitals. Knowing that we were potentially exposing ourselves. It will be difficult, but we must keep pressing.

What keeps you going? Knowing this is the nature of medicine and remembering that we took an oath. We want to help patients and use our skills and knowledge in the best way to save lives.

What gives you hope? Knowing this is a time when the whole world is united towards finding a common cure. It inspires me to keep doing what I can.

Any advice for readers? Continue to follow the social distance guidelines. It is the only way we can minimize the use of our healthcare system. And please, be patient with front line workers. Don’t be rude.

The legislation would cover rents from April 1 to July 31. as of Friday afternoon, it had not yet been formally delivered to Governor Cuomo, but would take effect immediately if he signed it.

The program would be funded with New York’s $ 2 trillion federal relief package that was transferred several weeks ago.

As the weather gets warmer and New Yorkers get antsier, the New York City Council wants to force Mayor Bill de Blasio’s hand on outdoor seating.

The council introduced legislation Thursday afternoon, supported by the restaurant industry, which required the mayor to find a way to open streets, sidewalks and public squares for outdoor dining.

Corey Johnson, Council Speaker and Council Member Antonio Reynoso in Brooklyn is the spearhead of the effort. “The restaurant and food industry have struggled as much as any other company in our city,” Reynoso said at the council hearing on Thursday, adding that the process would be “something that can be done very quickly and in a fast fashion.”

Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a business group, said the idea was to require the mayor to establish a framework to identify appropriate places for restaurants to sell food and drink outside, and create a mechanism through which businesses and the community board can leave submit proposals.

The bill would also require the city to set health and safety requirements for such operations.

“Our hope is that there may be areas where entire streets can be closed off for restaurant service,” Rigie said. “In other places you might be able to extend the sidewalk while keeping a car with cars and bicycle lanes. In other places, you may be able to use pedestrians. We really have to be creative. “

The coronavirus outbreak has stopped much of life in New York and there is no clear end in sight. But there are also moments that offer some of strength, hope, humor or some other kind of relief: a joke from a stranger online in the supermarket; a service from a friend along the block; a great meal ordered from a restaurant we want to survive; trivia night via Zoom with the bar down the street.

We want to hear about your moments, those who help you through these dark times. A reporter or editor can contact you. Your information will not be published without your consent.

The reporting was contributed by Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Christina Goldbaum, Jeffery C. Mays, Jesse McKinley, Andy Newman, Azi Paybarah, Joel Petterson, Aaron Randle, Dana Rubinstein, Matt Stevens and Katie Van Syckle.

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