Monday, July 20 marks a major milestone for New Yorkers: NYC has finally entered Phase 4 of its reopening. It is the last region of New York to do so, and unfortunately, the Phase 4 milestones won’t be as expansive as originally expected.
Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a warning to New York City residents when he announced Phase 4’s kickoff: “I want all new Yorkers to be on high alert. We are still in a precarious position.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio echoed Cuomo’s sentiments. ““We’ve got to strike a balance, and we’ve got time to look at the evidence… and make further decisions on some of these pieces, and we will do that very carefully.”
Why Is Phase 4 Limited for NYC?
Despite achieving the final and long-awaited phase of reopening, New Yorkers still won’t be able to enjoy milestones like socializing inside restaurants, working out at the gym, and shopping in malls. Looser restrictions were initially expected in Phase 4, but major spikes of COVID-19 cases around the country have caused Cuomo and de Blasio to adjust New York City’s pace of reopening.
The following will not be reopening in NYC’s Phase 4, despite earlier plans to do so:
- Indoor cultural institutions like museums
- The New York Aquarium
- Movie theaters
Some areas and attractions will reopen with limited capacity, but not all on July 20:
- Low risk outdoor art and entertainment like zoos and gardens
- Sports- without the fans
- Media production
- Grounds of the Statue of Liberty
Indoor service at restaurants and bars remains postponed indefinitely, especially after large crowds continue to gather without masks at dining institutions. Mayor de Blasio warned of consequences if crowds continued to ignore COVID-10 precautions and restaurants and bars.
“When we agreed to let this part of our life come back, it was not meant to be business as usual. It was meant to be with the understanding we all gained the hard way — why we need the social distancing, the limits: to stop this disease so it never comes back,” de Blasio said. “We don’t want to shut down restaurants. We don’t want to shut down bars. But if we have to shut down a few of them, it’s a lot better than the coronavirus surging in this city.”
When and How Will NYC Schools Reopen?
Schools remain the biggest question mark of Phase 4. The Department of Education plans to present ideas to the state on July 31. It is expected to encourage a “blended” model of teaching with the option to remain fully remote. Governor Cuomo will then approve or reject school reopening plans on a region-by-region basis during the first week of August.
Based on New York’s reopening guidelines, a region must be in Phase 4 and maintain a daily infection rate of 5 percent or lower over a 14-day rolling average in order for Governor Cuomo to consider the possibility of school reopening plans.