New York City is taking the next step in reopening after the pandemic shutdown, with movie and TV crews allowed to film, zoos to have reduced crowds, and professional sports teams to play to empty seats.
From next week visitors can return to the island that houses the Statue of Liberty – but not the statue itself.
But malls, museums and restaurant dining rooms will stay shuttered in the nation’s biggest city.
Governor Andrew Cuomo warned that New York’s progress is fragile as COVID-19 cases surge elsewhere in the country.
“I feel like we’re standing on a beach and we’re looking out at the sea and we see the second wave building in the distance, so I want all New Yorkers to be on high alert,” the Democratic governor told reporters during a telephone briefing.
In the city’s scaled-down Phase 4, botanical gardens and zoos can reopen at 33 per cent capacity, production of movies and TV shows can proceed and professional sports such as baseball can be played without fans in the stands.
The rest of the state is already in Phase 4, which permits opening malls and certain arts and entertainment centres. But Cuomo said this week that even in Phase 4, New York City can’t have “any additional indoor activity” in places like malls and museums because of coronavirus transmission risks.
New York City also has been barred from opening up indoor dining, unlike the rest of the state.
Even so, “Phase 4 – what a striking reality, after everything we went through,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday at an online briefing.
Meanwhile, Cuomo announced a crackdown Thursday on bars and restaurants across the state, saying too many have been flouting mask-wearing and social distancing rules, especially downstate.
“We allowed outdoor dining. We never allowed outdoor drinking” and partying crowds, Cuomo emphasised on Friday. De Blasio, on the other hand, maintained the city hadn’t seen any “really profound problem with compliance.”
The crackdown is worrying city restaurateurs, who have embraced outdoor dining as a lifeline after months of being limited to takeaway and delivery.
Daily statewide statistics released Friday show New York with 776 newly confirmed cases, representing 1 per cent of all tests. The number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 on Thursday dropped to 765 and 10 people died, according to state figures. More than 25,000 people have died statewide since the outbreak began.
Australian Associated Press